Chapter 3.2

They were among the last to arrive. This time, there were no live servants to take their coats. This was a vamps only affair.

The Crusader welcomed them effusively, kissing Drusilla's hand nonchalantly and giving Spike a condescending pat on the shoulder. "Drusilla, it is so good to see you! You look absolutely radiant. William, glad you could make it, too. Come, my friends. There are a few people I would like you to meet."

Konrad von Hohenfels led them around, introducing them to the crème de la crème of Moscow's fanged population, over forty vampires, who owed him allegiance. There were also about a dozen guests from outside of Moscow, some of whom had apparently traveled far to be able to attend. All were displaying expensive tailor-made gowns and suits and wore expensive jewelry. Spike wore a scowl. This was exactly the kind of function he no longer wanted anything to do with. Too reminiscent of his breathing days. Bored and restless, he was itching for a fight --or a kill. But even he knew that this was the wrong time and place to try and have some fun.

He slowly became aware of the fact that almost everyone they were introduced to was older than both he and Dru taken together. His mood didn't exactly improve.

"There is someone here who is eager to meet you, William," von Hohenfels said. He lead them to a small bookish man. "John, I'd like you to meet Drusilla, of the order of Aurelius, and her escort William the Bloody. Drusilla, William, this is John Arthur Fitzroy. He used to be a Watcher before I sired him."

Fitzroy gave Drusilla a polite bow and shook Spike's hand. "Spike, I heard so much about you. Is it true that you killed a Slayer single-handedly? Pray, tell me all about it. How did you do it?"

Spike grinned. Vampires weren't exactly known for their modesty, and neither was he. It was all the prompting he needed. A lively narrator, he soon attracted a larger audience. Even the Crusader listened politely, a strange smile curling his lip, but eventually he excused himself, and left Spike and Fitzroy to discuss the fineries of Slayer slaying. Drusilla quickly got bored and drifted off into the crowd.

"So you're saying the Council has no power over who gets chosen when one of the Slayers snuffs it?" Spike asked, eager to get first hand information on one of his favorite obsessions.

Fitzroy nodded. "Exactly. But sometimes there are portents, singling out potential candidates who are then subjected to vigorous training."

"And?" Spike asked. "Did you train one?"

"I did indeed," Fitzroy told him, not without pride. "She got chosen, too. An apt pupil and a gifted fighter if ever there was one. She dusted six of her attackers before she was overpowered. The last thing she felt were my fangs ripping her throat. Splendid drink that, Slayer's blood. Just splendid."

"Greatest drink in the world," Spike agreed.

As much as he enjoyed his chat with the ex-Watcher and fellow-countryman, eventually Spike felt twitchy and caged, eager to stretch his legs, so he excused himself. Passing the door to the ballroom, he found it slightly ajar. He looked inside and found it deserted, so he slipped inside. Ignoring the fact that there were beautifully polished wooden boxes all over the house containing cigarettes and cigars, Spike dug out his tobacco pouch and rolled himself a cigarette. Something about the ballroom looked different. One wall had been completely covered by dark green velvet curtains. Spike lifted one of the curtains and was surprised to find a huge mirror, which hadn't been there before. What did the Crusader want with mirrors? As he withdrew his hand to let the curtain fall back into place, Spike was startled by something. Movement --in that mirror, and not just of the green curtain. He lifted the heavy fabric again, and then it hit him. The mirror reflected a black sleeved arm with a white cuff and silver cufflinks. His arm.

He yanked at the curtain uncovering a larger section of the mirror. There it was, his long lost reflection. He hadn't seen himself in a mirror in thirty years. Amazing at how different he looked. Taller somehow. Wussy William truly was dead – and good riddance, too. Spike touched the scar where the sword of the Chinese Slayer had split his brow. The memory of that fight never failed to make him smile: the best night of his existence, life and unlife taken together. He let his vampire features emerge and admired the savagery he saw reflected in the mirror: the bony ridges, the golden eyes and, the razor-sharp fangs, bared in a wolfish grin. So, this was the face that struck terror into the hearts of his victims. Neat!

"Please, Sir!" a pleading voice said to him. Spike spun around and saw one of the Crusader's minions standing next to him. He, too, was reflected in the mirror. "You shouldn't be here, Sir." the minion said nervously, and in heavily accented English. "The Master will soon address his guests in the dining room. Allow me to put this back into place for you." The minion grabbed the curtain and hurriedly pulled it back over the mirror.

Spike growled in annoyance, but he shook off his vampire face and allowed himself to be ushered from the room. So, that was Konrad's big surprise. Dru would be pleased. Maybe they could sneak back into the ballroom together. Spike strolled through the house on an erratic course, looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found. It took Spike a while to realize, that the Crusader wasn't around, either.

He stifled a growl and grabbed himself one of the waiters. "Where is he? Where's the bleedin' Crusader?" The minion's eyes widened at Spike's lack of respect, but he pointed towards the ballroom. Spike walked over and listened at the door. On the other side there were voices and he could hear his Dru laughing.

"Look, how pretty we are!"

"My dearest Drusilla," the voice of the Crusader could be heard. "There's so much I could teach you. You are very powerful for one so young. I could help you hone your abilities."

White-hot rage coursed through him. Before he knew it, Spike was through the door, not caring one iota that barging in like that made him look like jealous fool with the self-control of a sodding fledgeling.

Apart from Drusilla and Konrad the room was empty. The older vampire stood in the middle of the ballroom, leaning on his walking stick. All the curtains had been drawn back from the mirrors. Drusilla was wearing her vampiric features.

Spike stopped in his tracks when it became obvious that he wasn't really interrupting anything. Drusilla was walking from one mirror to the next, gazing at her reflection in awe. She touched the glass with just one cautious finger as if the merest contact might cause ripples on the hard surface or worse, as if her touch might make the image disappear for good.

Spike slipped into his human guise, closed the door and leaned against it, trying to look casual. It was difficult to roll a cigarette when one's hand were shaking with bloodlust and rage, put he persevered. He struck a match and lit his cigarette, then flicked the still burning match into the other man's general direction. It landed on the polished parquet, glowed for a few more seconds and then winked out, leaving a small but noticeable singed spot.

There was a flash of silver in the Crusader's eyes, but then the older vampire decided to simply ignore Spike. Instead Konrad walked over to Drusilla, clasping her hand, trying to make her turn towards him. Drusilla didn't budge, unwilling to take her eyes off herself, no matter how briefly.

"Join me as my consort," Konrad said, willing her to pay attention, but not quite succeeding, "and you will never be lacking in excitement or blood. If you wish, you may study arcane secrets, rituals and spells with me, shaping the world to your whim. Yours is a rare and precious gift. Together, you and I shall unlock the darkest secrets."

"I like secrets," Drusilla said dreamily. It was the first indication that at least part of her had listened to Konrad's offer. "But I don't like yours. It's bright and fiery and it hurts my eyes." She shook off his grip, causing him to frown indignantly. Konrad von Hohenfels was not accustomed to being denied.

*Consort!* Spike almost spat. He dropped his cigarette and swaggered towards them until he was standing behind his dark princess. Slinging his arms firmly around his lover's waist, he planted a kiss on her slender neck, looking straight ahead into the mirror, meeting her gaze with his. Her reflection rewarded him with a lascivious smile.

"The lady's not interested, can't you see?" Spike told the Crusader, nibbling at Drusilla's ear without losing eye-contact.

"We'll see about that," the Crusader said smoothly. "Anyway, it is time for me to address my guests. And there will be refreshments. I would appreciate it, if you'd join us."

He pulled at a tasseled cord, draping the curtain over a section of mirrored wall. When his obstinate guests refused to move from the spot, he turned on his heel and left the ballroom, the harsh sound of his cane on the parquet the only outward sign of his anger.

The lovers ignored him. Spike's kisses became more passionate. Drusilla's vampiric visage was replaced by her human features. With nimble fingers Spike began to unhook the bodice of her gown, knowing she'd be eager to see herself unveiled. The dress slid down, pooling around her slender ankles. Chemise, corset and stockings followed, until nothing remained. "You know, luv" Spike whispered in her ear. "you're the most beautiful creature I've ever seen. I love you. And I'll never let you go. Never, you hear me?."

At that she turned around to look at him, and a strange sadness settled on her face. "Yes, you will," she said. "The pixies told me. But not tonight." She kissed him with a passion and her hands began to pull at his clothes, shoving his jacket off his shoulders and untying his cravat. They made love in front of the Crusader's enchanted mirrors, clinging to each other as if this was their last night on earth.

By the time Spike and Drusilla joined the other guests again, the better half of the Crusader's speech was already over. So much for the better. *Pompous git!* Spike listened with only one ear to the Master's self-adulation. Instead he watched as some of Konrad's minions built a kind of pyramid of shallow champagne glasses. Spike found himself hoping the fragile construction would tilt and crash, cutting the Crusader off in mid sentence. No such luck.

"...so, my dear friends, I hope you will all drink with me and revel in the power to feed on life itself!"

There was applause from the vampires gathered, some of it downright frenetic. Spike despised the way the Crusader's minions fawned on their sire.

Everybody turned towards the pyramid of glasses. There was a kind of faucet directly above the topmost glass. It was connected to a copper pipe which disappeared in the ceiling. Suddenly there was a crimson drop blossoming in the top glass, another drop, and more, drops turning into a thin rivulet of blood, gushing from the faucet, filling the glass to the brim. The scent of hot blood reached Spike's nostrils and he heard a few guests growl in anticipation, as the red tide spilt over the sides of the glass to fill the other drinking vessels beneath it.

"Isn't it pretty?" Drusilla admired the cascade of blood. She took off her right glove.

"Couldn't he have just thrown in a few live humans? Blood tastes stale out of glasses," Spike muttered.

"Shh," Drusilla scolded him. "You mustn't insult our host."

"Why not? I'm not going to cow to him, just cause the cards say he's got a stake with my name on it."

For a moment Dru's eyes glazed over and she had that faraway look Spike had come to associate with her more profound insights. She swayed slightly and the emerald glove slipped out of her hand. Spike caught it with a smooth gesture before it could drop to the floor and be trampled underfoot, then tucked it into the pocket of his jacket. There was a commotion, when the tide of guests swept towards the blood-filled glasses. The waiters distributed drinks all around. Spike stayed at Drusilla's side, supporting her with one arm and making sure no one bumped into her while she was in her trance.

It didn't take long and every guest was holding a filled glass. There was a hush as everybody waited for Konrad's toast. Their host was standing on an elevated dais, so that everybody could see him. There was a beautiful blonde vampire at his side, who was smiling proudly. The Master of Moscow let his gaze wander through the room, finally appraising Spike and Dru who stood alone, empty-handed. Everyone followed the Crusader's gaze and Spike suddenly found himself the center of attention of about 60 other vampires. At a gesture of their host a waiter with a polished silver tray and two filled glasses approached them. It was obvious to everyone present, that the Crusader was only waiting for them. Spike gave Dru a very slight shake, hoping to gently coax her out of her trance. He reached for a glass and placed it in her hand, closing her fingers around it. When he was sure that she wasn't going to drop it, he took the other drink.

Satisfied the Crusader raised his glass in salute, and his guests mirrored the gesture. "May your existence be filled with cold kisses and hot blood," the Crusader boomed sanctimoniously.

The vampires drank. Spike shrugged and raised his drink to his lips, glancing sideways at Drusilla, when he saw her open her hand and drop her glass as if it were scalding hot. To Spike's heightened senses it seemed to fall with almost dreamlike slowness, spilling its crimson content with a languid spin before crashing on the parquet and exploding into a multitude of little shards. A large red stain blossomed on the polished wood, and splashes of red discolored the emerald hem of Dru's new gown. Drusilla appeared perfectly sane, but even if she'd screamed like a banshee or sang like a madwoman, it wouldn't have changed anything. She was his sire and his one true love. He shrugged and rather than drink he held his glass away from his body. "Dru?" he whispered quietly.

"Don't drink, my lovely. It smells like chains and words of magic," she whispered back. He turned back to look at the Crusader, cocked one eyebrow mockingly and dropped his glass. Over a hundred pairs of eyes stared at him. "Oh dear," Spike said with a grin. "I'm so clumsy."

TBC

AN: Sorry, I haven't updated this in what seems like forever. This part has been finished for a long time, I merely forgot to post it.

I don't have a lot of time to write, but I'd still like to finish this eventually. I just can't promise it will happen soon.