Feedback: Yes, thank you. Melpomenethalia@aol.com
Spoilers: Through the beginning of Angel season five
Distribution: The Blackberry Patch, the Druficathon site, and Fanfiction.net. If you're interested, please let me know.
Summary: When he falls into Drusilla's snare, Steven's life will never be the same again.
Author's Note: Written in response to Mar's (maybedarkpink) Dru ficathon. This answered Pandora's (wildcherries) request for a Connor/Drusilla pairing with "heavy religious themes—either literally or symbolically" with the restriction that no one was to die or be sired. Hope this worked for you.
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.
Groggy, Steven tried to lift his eyelids, but they felt so heavy that he gave up and found himself sagging forward. That was when the second sensation hit him, and a shock of cold fear swept through him. There was rope around his wrists and ankles, and he seemed to be tied in a vaguely upright position to a very cold wall. It wasn't quite painful, but he was uncomfortable.
He was also scared senseless. Frantically, he tried to form a coherent thought. The last thing he remembered was being at a frat party. He'd had a couple beers, but nothing that should have wound up putting him in this position, at least not unless they were drugged with something.
Steven did remember a dark-haired girl, pretty and quite a bit taller than him, had been watching him from across the room. Something about her had unnerved him. Her eyes weren't so much flirting with him as attempting to pierce through him. Oddly, not one of the other boys had gone near her. It was as though she simply didn't exist for any of them.
He recalled thinking the whole situation was more than a little surreal, and then, when he'd gone into the kitchen to nab another piece of pizza, the floor had suddenly come rushing towards him as though his knees had turned into sawdust. He didn't recall smashing into the black and white linoleum, though, and he had no headache.
"That's right," said a voice somewhere to his left. "I caught you when you fell. I'd not let you dash your foot against a stone."
She had a lilting accent, soft, and it made him think of rivers of caramel for some reason. At last he won the battle with his eyelids and pulled them up, seeing exactly what he most and least expected. The girl from last night was standing in front of him now, so close it startled him. Her face was barely a foot from his. It was strange. Normally, he should have felt breath or the heat of a body, or just a presence at least, but there was nothing coming from her at all. She could almost have been an illusion, and for a moment he wondered if he'd lost his mind.
The setting didn't exactly help matters. He'd half-expected to find himself in a basement or some old, vacant warehouse, but instead he saw the dining room of a richly furnished home. The table, a dark stained wood, looked like an antique, and the eight chairs around it were high-backed and upholstered in deep red velvet. The room, which had no windows, was painted in a matching shade of red, and he soon realized that his hands were tied to a pair of heavy iron wall sconces with thick white cotton rope.
"Uh," he said unsurely, "could you, maybe, you know, untie me?"
The girl tilted her head, her eyes still oddly penetrating, and her mouth screwed up as though this was the last question she had thought he'd ask. "No. Not just yet."
"Look," he said, "I'm not really into the kinky stuff. I don't know what's going on, but I want to get out of here."
"We all want things, don't we?" she said dreamily. "Angel wings and pretty screams and rainbows and the garden of Eden. The apples tasted like the blood of a poet, all tinged with strange colors. But princesses get to have their wishes granted first. Then the gentlemen. That's the polite way."
Well, he thought. That answered that question. She was a loon. And he was probably dead meat. He opened his mouth to begin hollering for all he was worth when she shot out a hand faster than his eye could follow and clamped it over his mouth.
"Shh," she whispered to him. "No one can hear you. They're all miles and miles away, and your throat will just feel like you swallowed razor blades. They don't taste nice at all. I know."
His eyes got a bit wider at this, but he had the strangest certainty that she was telling the truth. He nodded slowly, and she removed her hand, sweeping the hair back from his brow as she did so.
"Okay, so, what is it you want exactly?" Steven asked as calmly as he could under the circumstances.
"What's your name?" she asked him, giving him a searching look.
"Steven," he said slowly, trying to think of some way out of this situation.
Her response was to turn away from him with an expression of anger on her face. "Knew it. Daddy made him more topsy-turvy than he did me. At least mine are real," she mumbled, apparently to one of the empty dining room chairs. She suddenly wheeled on him, her long red dress billowing out as she did so, and he noticed for the first time that she looked like she belonged in a completely different century. "No."
"That's not your name, sweeting," she said in a crooning voice, and her hand brushed his cheek softly.
"Maybe you've got me mixed up with someone else?" he asked hopefully.
"No. You've got you mixed up with someone else," she said sadly, and her expression changed to one of immense sympathy. "There are clouds all around you, like shadows that don't go away in the light. They make things look different than they really are, clouds of falsehoods. It's a sin to tell a lie, and Daddy told a whole pack of them and slipped them inside your brain."
He just stared. This made no sense at all. "Look, my dad's an orthodontist…"
She placed a finger on his lips to silence him again, her expression inhumanly fierce. "Not so. Don't dirty your lips with it. Just look at me, dearie. Look deep."
Her face was so close to his now that the air of her words fell in puffs against his face, cold as ice. The eyes bored into his own, and he found it impossible to look away from them or even to shut his eyes. She compelled him, and he found himself returning her gaze unblinkingly, hypnotized by the blue depths. Slowly, he saw his own reflection in the black of her pupil, but it began to change. The image's hair grew longer, and his eyes held pain. A man was beside him, tall, with a wide chest and powerful arms. A sensation like a hot knife slamming into his heart convulsed him, and he began to breath in ragged gasps, still unable to tear himself away from the images that played in her eyes: people, places, thoughts, lives… his life.
"Oh, God," he groaned loudly. "What's… I don't… please stop…"
"Hush. You need the medicine," she hissed at him as though she were in pain herself. "We chastise whom we most love."
After what felt like an eternity, her eyes drifted shut, and he found himself slumped against the wall, still suspended in his bonds, shaking as though he were in the throes of a seizure.
"What is your name?" she asked him calmly, as though they had just been introduced.
He looked up at her, his eyes filled with pain, his cheek as pale as her own, and he hoarsely formed his lips around the word.
She smiled at him and nodded approvingly. "Yes. That's right and true, just as you should say. You may have sweetmeats for that."
Everything that he'd thought was his life only minutes before was shattered into a thousand pieces, and what had replaced it was something he wouldn't have believed in his most horrible nightmares. He had tried to kill his father, he'd slept with Cordelia, he'd sacrificed that young girl, he'd…
He found himself vomiting onto the Persian rug, the bile in his mouth tasting rancid and foul. In a moment, he felt the girl's hand on his brow again, gently patting him, tenderly easing him through the illness.
Slowly, carefully, she undid the knots of his bonds. His feet made little difference, but after she untied his right arm, he swung violently to the left, collapsing like a rag doll and dangling limply from the remaining rope tied to the sconce. She put an arm around his waist, as her agile fingers made quick work of the last knot. He was entirely supported by her arms now, and she gently deposited him on the floor, laying his head in her lap and humming softly.
Many hours passed, and Connor seemed to be coming out of his catatonia. The lace of her dress scratched his cheek, and he stirred, finally pulling himself into a seated position and regarding the woman.
"Who are you? I don't remember you," he asked at last.
"I'm Daddy's little girl," she said matter-of-factly. "I was made long before you."
"You're… Drusilla?" he asked uncertainly. She nodded. "I remember Ang… him, talking about you."
"Did he now? Well, that's something. Hasn't forgotten me all the way then," she said, bitterness clinging to her words.
"I don't… why did you do this?" he asked, wondering why he wasn't doing as his father, the first one he remembered, had taught him and staked the evil, damned, twisted thing without tempting the devil to speak.
"What do you know about me?" she asked him curiously.
"You're evil," he said bluntly.
"True enough," she said, smiling strangely. "Wasn't always. I was a bride of heaven long ago, or should have been. Did my Angel say anything else to you?"
Connor felt oddly delicate about mentioning the fact Angel had specifically said she was "crazier than a goat who's drunk five bottles of Guinness… and I know that from experience," so he simply stared at her.
"Yes," she said in response to his unspoken thoughts, "but I'm quite the sanest of the lot, though they don't know it. Did Daddy tell you how he made me so pure in mind?"
Connor shook his head.
"Have you ever heard the story of Isaiah? Hmm?" she asked, smiling coldly.
"My father… my other father… told me. He was a prophet, and God had an angel hold a live coal to his lips so that his words would be clean," Connor said.
"The good Sisters would give you a pretty prayer card for that," she said. "Daddy did the same to me. He burned away everything in me that was human, everything I loved. Mummy and Anne and Winnie and Uncle Paul and Gram. He even killed Prince, my little dog. He burned, burned, burned away all the things he didn't like, and it hurt very much. Then he poured himself down my throat, and it burned worse than all the others, just as I'd known it would. That's how I came to be. He made one family go away, and he replaced it with another. His. And I was his pretty little prophet, bringing all the people we met into the light of his darkness, forever and ever, amen."
He didn't quite know what to say to this. Holtz had said Angelus made a habit of killing families, and he'd heard the story of his little girl, Sarah. This was what might have happened to her if she had lived, he guessed. A flare of anger went through him.
"Sounds like something he'd do," he growled.
"Except that then he didn't anymore," she said, her eyes growing tear-filled. "The lovely dark eternal paradise he promised ended, and he went far away. My god left me alone, prophesizing in the wilderness to nobody. And Grandmother left us. And then my sweet Spike, he stayed with me, but then he left too. Daddy made me lose another family all over again, and it's not fair to make it happen more than once. And then Grandmother came home again, and she and Daddy did delicious, naughty, wicked things in the dark. He was guilty of the great sin: he tried to end his own life, and instead he made yours. And I knew I'd have a family again. But Darla died, and Daddy made you go away before I could even see you. And I lost a third family. And that's too many altogether, don't you think?"
His head was spinning by this point, not just with the strangeness of the words and the horror of the tale. It was the parallels.
"My father," Connor said, his mouth suddenly dry, "he took away my family too. He told me that he'd be my family now… and he traded me away. And now I've lost them."
"His murderous, pretty baby," she said softly, her eyes looking far into the distance, "except he didn't want that anymore."
"And yet…," Connor said abruptly, then broke off as suddenly, his words lodged in his throat.
"Speak it," Drusilla said firmly. "It exists, said or not, for both of us."
"And yet I still love him," he said in a rush, and his voice cracked on the final words. "I hate him, but I love him."
"Yes, sweet boy," she said, and her long fingers drew patterns in the tears he hadn't known were on his face. "As do I. And that's the true madness he inflicts."
He leaned into her hand, strangely unashamed of his tears. The droplets clung to her fingers, bonding them together, and he realized why she had taken him here, why she had broken the spell.
"I won't lose you, Connor," she said with a strangely reverent air. "All of Darla I've left is your eyes, and all of Daddy in your face. And I'm the one who has never, ever lied to you. And I never will."
He waited a moment, taking in all she said, before he lifted his hand to her own, which still rested against his face. His rope-burned wrist dripped blood against her white skin, mingling blood and tears together into a seamless one. Neither would ever be alone again.