Title: Not Myself Author: Gyrus Rating: PG, for violent images Summary: Drusilla becomes the subject of an experiment. Spoilers: BTVS through "Chosen"; ANGEL through "Awakening" Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Fox Television own it all. I just borrowed it and I swear I'll give it right back. Notes: This story was written for the Buffy/Angel Lyric Wheel and inspired by Chantal Kreviazuk's "Imaginary Friend".

Big thanks to Sara for selecting such interesting lyrics.

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Not Myself by Gyrus

I don't say half of what I think. Not even a quarter. I don't dare; there's little mouse ears in the white, white walls, and eyes are always on me. It's an awful sort of room. I've made up a song about it - want to hear?

All coiled up in a little white box
with a door that stings and a window that shocks.
There's a bare-bone chair and a board for a bed
and monkeys that like to play games in my head.

They're not nice, the monkeys. Always fiddling, scribbling, poking, nodding to each other as if they knew anything at all. They can't even see the stars -- not the way I do, dancing and spinning and only rarely blinking. Some dance with a partner, others dance alone. Like me.

My sweet boy is all cinders, and grandmother is gone. Daddy came home and left again before I could even say hello, and now I'm afraid he's not ever coming back. He didn't even leave a note, cruel daddy.

So now I sit and wait, wait, wait for the end of me.

--

"Where did you find her?"

"She was right here in Manhattan."

"I can't believe it. The firm doesn't catch a glimpse of her in months, and then she just pops up here? Talk about luck."

"I'm a lucky guy. Still, it took four guys with tazers to bring her in, and one of them needed three pints of O-neg afterwards. Speaking of which, have you given her her first meal yet?"

"An hour ago."

"Any changes?"

"Way too early to know. You know, if she were human, she'd have died of liver failure three times over just from the first dose."

"The joy of working with vampires. Hepatotoxicity is just one of a hundred things you don't have to worry about."

"And a few things you DO have to worry about. You sure this containment unit will hold her? That window doesn't look thick enough."

"Don't worry -- it's a conductive crystal and its always electrified. Even if she breaks through it, she'll be unconscious before she can do anything. Trust me, this unit has held worse things than her."

"I thought you said you just got it."

"It's government surplus. You'd be amazed what you can get when your employer owns a few senators."

--

The littlest monkey does most of the watching. He likes looking into the fishbowl; it helps him forget that the sharks are ever circling up above, flashing their pretty white teeth.

He dropped a bag of blood through the slot in the door, just like yesterday. But not at all like yesterday; yesterday's was a happy girl's, all full of running and grass and her new boy, but today's was a nasty old lady who smelled like cats and dead flowers. The monkey doesn't know one from the other.

Then he asked me if there was anything I wanted. I wouldn't speak to him. He scribbles when I speak, and I hate the scratch scratch scratch of the dried-up pen in his crabby fingers.

The stars are bright today. It's lovely that they keep me company, but I do wish they would speak. If they stop talking, I'll forget all their names and what sort of cakes they like.

--

"Anything yet?"

"No, not yet. She won't respond when I talk to her."

"What's she been doing?"

"Not much. A little pacing, a lot of staring at the ceiling."

"Hmm."

"Look, are you sure the firm's going to be happy about this experiment? I heard about what she did at the Los Angeles office."

"Please. The senior partners don't burst into tears just because a few of their underlings get eaten."

--

I can't abide this room another minute. The lights are too bright, and they shut them off at the wrong times, when I don't feel like sleeping. The food never stops being dreadful. They think I can't taste what's in it, but I know, I know. But I drink it all down like a good girl, and the monkey smiles and nods and scribbles away.

I'm so very bored. Everything is bright and clear, but nothing speaks to me. I think the moon has turned its back, or would if it could, and the stars glare down at me and won't say a word. Have I done something to offend them?

But I still know things, even if the moon doesn't tell them to me. I know there's a man upstairs who is thinking lovely, sticky thoughts about catching his yammering wife's head in a plastic bag and letting her scream herself to death, and I know that tonight she will say just the wrong thing that will make him do it. I know that wretched little fledgling Slayers will soon be hatching all over the world like flies on rotting meat. And I know the Hellmouth is closed because I don't hear it screaming anymore. Poor thing.

So much is gone. I have only myself, and even she is dying.

--

"She talked to me today."

"Really? What did she say?"

"She asked me how far away the stars are."

"Hmm."

"I told her they're billions of miles away, and that they're always moving apart because the universe is expanding."

"What did she say to that?"

"She nodded like I'd somehow explained everything."

"Interesting."

--

I'm not myself today. My head feels so strange.

The stars are leaving. The science man explained it -- they are all moving out from the center, expanding. Maybe that's why they won't speak to me, or to each other. They're too far away.

The man upstairs threw his dead wife in the swimming pool and made sure her lungs filled up with water. So horrible, he'll tell them, to find her there in the morning, laying on the bottom. She loved swimming at night.

He's a clever fellow. I must find him when I leave here, as I'll be needing new friends.

--

"How's it coming?"

"I don't know. She definitely seems different. Not as much pacing and staring; she's more interested in things. She actually asked me for something to read."

"What?"

"Anything. I guess she was bored. I gave her some magazines I had in the lab -- a couple issues of TIME, a FORTUNE. She devoured them and asked for more. That's when it got interesting."

"How's that?"

"I told her she could have the magazine in my locker if she could guess what it was."

"And?"

"Nailed it in one. PC GAMER."

"Geek. But it proves she's got control over her power like she's never had before. God, she could make the firm a ton of money if we use her right. Give her the Rhine test tomorrow."

"If she'll let me. I'm betting her clairvoyance score will be through the roof."

--

I never used to think about the world. I traveled a lot, of course, with Angel and Spike, but I never cared much for what was going on in it. I was always too busy watching the fairies, or listening to the moon, or punishing my dolls when they'd been naughty. Now my imaginary friends have left me, and the world is all I have.

I still see the future, clear as day. There will be a great thunderstorm in the morning, and a woman and her little boy will be killed when their car crashes into a lamppost on 93rd street. A man will lose his hat in the wind and break his neck chasing after it.

And then, just past noon, the electricity will turn off for six seconds.

--

"Okay, Drusilla, which card am I looking at?"

"Hmm...the one with the wavy lines."

"Very good! That's twelve consecutive right answers so far."

"Mister Science Man? Can I have more magazines today?"

"Of course, Drusilla. I brought you a U.S. NEWS, a ROLLING STONE, and a PEOPLE. You can have one as soon you've finished the next part of the...What? What are you smiling about?"

--

The world is still lovely in simple ways. I've had something to read, someone to eat, and then a bit of exercise getting out of that place. The little cuts from the broken glass are almost healed, and I've stolen enough of the special juice they've been feeding me to last a long, long time. An antipsychotic, I think they called it.

I miss the fairies and the spirits. I miss Spike, and Angelus, and Darla. I even miss the old Drusilla, that daffy girl.

But there's no one left to take care of me except me, even if I'm not the same anymore.

It's good to have my mind back. I've missed it.

----

Song: Imaginary Friend by Chantal Kreviazuk

Lyrics:

It scares me to speak my mind

It might sound self-absorbed

I don't say half of what I think

I wonder what I'm thinkin' for

I'm smellin' dead flowers

And listenin' to the walls again

I'm drinkin' from a leaky faucet

And writin' with this dried up pen

Wish I still had my imaginary friend

And who needs to listen, well ...

What do I have to sell

Everyone's just waitin' for their own turn

Kinda like show and tell

I'm smellin' dead flowers

And listenin' to the walls again

I'm drinkin' from a leaky faucet

And writin' with this dried up pen

Wish I still had my imaginary friend

Wish I still had my imaginary friend

Someone to listen, someone to laugh

Someone to cry at the right time

I'm smellin' dead flowers

And listenin' to the walls again

I'm drinkin' from a leaky faucet

And writin' with this dried up pen

You know that I'm smellin' dead flowers

And listenin' to the walls

Drinkin' from a leaky faucet

And writin' with this dried up pen

Wish I still had my imaginary friend

Wish I still had my imaginary friend

And I would call him up

But I don't remember his name