BEST FIENDS FOREVER

1. For Keeps
He laid the new doll beside his infant child, who snuggled up to it in her sleep.

"Such a beautiful doll, Thomas." His wife couldn't quite suppress a giggle. "It looks just like the nanny I had as a child. Miss Edith, her name was. But should she really sleep with a porcelain doll in bed? What if it should shatter?"

Thomas kissed his wife and softly ruffled their sleeping daughter's black hair. "Don't worry, love. God won't let anything happen to her. And I expect she and Miss... Edith, did you say? shall be friends for a long time..."

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2. Cradle And All
The neighbours' house had been much too quiet the last week, so Mr Turner decided to investigate.

The stench hit him like a fist. He stumbled over the maid, half-naked and pale just inside the front door as if waiting to take his coat. The family sat around the dinner table, their own guts on plates before them, their blood coagulating in their wine glasses.

He found the youngest daughter in her room, a 22-year-old child, starving, singing to a doll. When he tried to take it from her she screamed and bit him hard enough to almost draw blood.

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3. Playtime
Only one kind of dolls were allowed in nunneries: the kind that hung from bits of wood, always sad, never blinking. You could talk to them and sometimes they talked back, but you couldn't hug them. Nuns were expected to abstain from all but one love.

She snuck Miss Edith into her cell under her petticoat. They spent nights Not Alone together, taking turns as Mummy or Daughter. It lasted until...

Later, the vampire snuck back to collect her doll and hold her up before Mother Superior's dismembered corpse. "See what happens to little girls who don't let others play?"

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4. What's In A Name
As a human she had been Julia, after her Grandmum. Not Juliet, like the tragedy; it's bad luck to name your child after someone who kills herself. "Julia" had imperial roots, she was told, a Grand Name. Julia and Miss Edith had been inseparable, and her family got used to them playing their own games.

But the games had changed. It was her new Grandmum who laughed and named her Drusilla, after Caligula's sister and incestuous lover. "If Angelus is going to fuck his childe, her name should reflect it."

Miss Edith kept her name. Her new family didn't notice.

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5. A Doll's House
Over the years, Miss Edith gained many new friends made of china, cotton and lace, with eyes that blinked and hair that seemed almost life-like. Many were snatched directly from the twitching hands of their young owners, blood still splattered on their dresses.

One day Drusilla came home with a new blood-splattered toy. She called it William. His eyes blinked and his hair seemed almost life-like, but he knew games the others didn't. The bed was awfully crowded before the dolls moved to their own shelf, backs turned for everyone's peace of mind. There are some things children shouldn't know.

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6. Wicked Games
Even after Daddy and Grandmum left, Europe was the greatest playground for her and Spike. So many cities, so many people.

She always killed the children first, making their parents watch. They would sing such pretty songs... her favourite was when she made them sing the one that went "Kill her, but spare me" or "Take my son, let me live." Sometimes she'd bring them back to wherever she and Spike were staying to hear them plead for days, until Spike complained; eventually she always killed them. Miss Edith usually wore a blindfold; it was nothing she hadn't seen before.

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7. Things Fall Apart
Sunnydale. She had her home, her family back again. Every night they had breakfast at the big table. She took care of Spike like her baby, she and Daddy tried every bed and the shelf of dolls soon took up half her room.

It was bliss, but she knew it wouldn't last. Happy families never do. But she danced as the world hurtled towards destruction.

So when the Slayer killed Angelus, saved the world and made Spike betray her she was furious, but really only surprised by how easily it happened. And the only world that was destroyed was hers.

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8. Family Feud
They wanted her to fix Darla – even offered to pay her, as if she wouldn't have done it for free. Together, they would rip apart this continent like they had the other. But Daddy set her on fire and her Grandmum/Daughter wanted nothing more to do with her.

But she was sure Spike wouldn't refuse her. He couldn't. She left Miss Edith on the train in Sunnydale, telling her sharply that she was old enough to look after herself.

Two days later, there was a break-in at the train station's lost-and-found. The night watchman was killed. No suspects were found.

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9. No Fun
Dru and Edith kept travelling, inseparable. But however many new toys she found, it wasn't a party anymore.

Occasionally she tried to start a new family, siring a businessman in Vancouver, a little girl in Houston... But they were all selfish and nasty and she always staked them within a week.

One night in Tijuana she bled a whimpering prostitute to death, spilling the blood onto Miss Edith's face, imploring her to drink. But after Drusilla cleaned the blood off, the doll was quieter than ever. Wouldn't talk. Wouldn't sing.

They kept travelling. At some point, they fade from view.

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10. After the Ball
The fires burned out in what was left of LA. The people who survived the demon war tried to live without fire departments, supermarkets or politicians; families lived in shacks on silent freeways, children scavenged for food along Wilshire Boulevard.

8-year-old Aimee found a dusty old doll with a cracked skull. An expert could have told her how old and how much money vintage toys were worth once, but now it was just a doll.

She brought it back to the hideout, where no monsters had found her yet. For the first night in a year she slept without nightmares.

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