Title: Sally Dances
Author: Juanita Dark
Spoilers: Angel Season 2 - Dear Boy; BtVS Season 2 - post-I Only Have Eyes For You.
Summary: Angelus only has eyes for Dru, but what happens when both the vampire and the victim are mad?
Disclaimer: Whose house? Joss' house. I'm just the 'sitter. No furniture was harmed during my non-infringement.
++++++++++++++++++++All my sentiments ring true
You feel him in the mirror laughing back at you
If I could tell you how it seems, I would
Dru-sil-la. It had a certain poetry. Three syllables, like hidden notes - angular, sharp and strange. So very like the real thing.
She had moved hurriedly away on the night he had discovered her, as if recognising his plan; and understanding that he was seeing her peculiar talent in action, he realised that she offered him the grandest of gifts: that of the forgone conclusion. What did she see? To distinguish her fear behind the proud facade was to know the grade of his triumph - for she was beautiful in terror, exceptional in inevitability, and his for the taking.
Draped in a curious innocence that hung around her like a protective pentangle her spell was charismatic, alluring. The dusty air gave him none of her fragrance, no scent to chase, and he was a beast starved for the conquest, starting after her without need for further advisement. But there was older counsel to be heard:
"Down boy, let the plum ripen..."
His flaxen-haired sire was more than level-headed on the matter, halting his charge. She had the experience, after all, and she knew that gratification - when delayed - was not without its benefits. Darla - who would have indulged herself in some of Elizabeth Bathory's legend were she not sufficiently eternal - sought new blood everywhere, for his delectation.
As a result of this pause, the girl - and her family - had trailed away to the distance in unarrested but counterfeit safety. The cracks of their collective heels rippled over the cobblestones that so resembled tiny skulls. He had yet to reach them.
Darla, removing the firm hand from his chest, broke his enchantment - as the bells of St Mary-le-Bow rang clear over the East End.
In the tumult of the next days he learned her name, holding it - like blasphemy - close to his heart.
She was crying again.
Moving silently across the polished timber of the floors and carefully around the solid wood of the door - slightly ajar - he followed the sound. Concentrated on it. It grew, blooming in his senses as he pushed the door open with the soft pads of his fingers; revealing a picture of two women haloed by candlelight - a vision shown to him from right to left.
The bed - standing almost directly behind the door - was not immediately visible to anyone entering the room, or spying the doorway from the corridor. Hidden away it posed a secluded haven from the darkness; and the women of the house had found an island there to be rested upon.
Truly, he had wanted Drusilla to waken in the water. For no other reason than that he had never seen it done before. He had had to content himself with her bath after he had killed her. Darla refused to do it. But then Darla would have seen Drusilla deserted for dead at sunrise, to smoke and burn along with the rest of her Sisters Of Mercy. Still, he savoured the fact that she had died, and died well, in a briar of bones and body parts. The horror and anxiety he had forced upon her for weeks at a time, had kept her body strong, her blood light - subtle in flavour. He wondered if the fear of her last moments had superimposed itself on her mind before death - along with his hard body astride her.
Presently, Darla talked to her in a hushed tone only just removed from her position as governess. Drusilla wept regardless, as she lay stretched along the length of the bed, her white gown blending into the bedclothes with no visible division. She rested her head against Darla's lap; the long, dark strands of her hair, brushed and spread out in a thin layer upon the elder's skirts. That Darla did not touch the girl despite their intimacy betrayed the dam's softness. The blonde looked up to see him lurking there, her hair catching the light for a moment, her face a lesson in accusation. Drusilla's body tremored in an echo of sobs that did not quite reach him. Darla, returning her attention to the problem at her knee continued her tale in an effort to quiet, still, strangle the newborn verbally. The reflective trail of a tear was apparent down Drusilla's bloodless cheek, as her eyes remained blind to his entry.
He tilted his lamp up, the better to see her cry, the suggestion of a smile being born on his lips. He wondered.
"What were you telling her?"
"Fairy tales," Darla replied crisply, and when Drusilla cried even harder, clutching at the embroidered skirts against her face, she dropped the words like molten lead: "Snow White."
He discerned the choked words rise from the prostrate girl: "Daddy never put me in a coffin."
Darla rolled her eyes. Moving from the bed she tugged herself bodily out of Drusilla's clasp, steadying herself: "I'm sure Angelus will tell you the rest of the story."
Distraught but less so, Dru sat up, dark hair falling limply, dead eyes locking with his for the first time. Their dark glittering made them seem to enlarge in her head, absorbing him.
Darla fluttered past him, anxious to get away, then backed up a little, retracing her strides. As she touched his face, her free hand stole his lamp.
"Feed her, if she'll take it; let her starve if she won't. I now have less time to kill nobility."
He glanced at her, missing her expression - letting her go. He listened to her reverberant steps recede to the courtyard outside, as the door closed behind him.
Drusilla had not moved. His approach was fixed by her unblinking stare.
"Now," he mused, "where were we?"
Perhaps it was moments like this that he was closer to her mind; liquid thoughts rising from his vaporous heat, amusing him with their pretty colours. Afflicted with a sense of his own drunkenness. He had drunk too much - though not in the conventional sense. The fear in the room had gotten to him, making him insatiable, so that he could not drink enough. A family feast. And the pyjama'd children - adorable.
Feeling the blood thread in and out of his skin and every vessel beneath, he was beyond what any vampire should think and feel. Highly contented. Together they had walked down avenues, with nothing to fear. That nothing would find them, would harm them, would try. The charm of modern death.
Dru's eyes were wide but widening, glinting wilder than sixpence in the dark. Her movements: a jittery marionette, refusing to touch the ground; yet the rat-tat-tat-ing of her Dorothy-red shoes was heard with an unsettling irregularity. She was off somewhere in her head, without adult supervision. Her sparrow body starved for blood.
"Little sister did not like me," she said with real disappointment. "Eyes like needles."
Her right hand jutted out: a thumb, two fingers forwards - imitating a crab. The painted nails like retractable claws.
"Holes too big for my fingers."
The other white hand stroked her velvet-covered belly.
"And daisy's hair..."
She drifted off, absently rubbing the fingers of the crab hand together, trying to remove the suspicion of dust. She had not quite gotten off all the blood.
"You need a fresh pulse, Dru," he said smiling, because he had killed them all - while Dru had chastised her food for screaming. The many, many screams.
She turned to him suddenly alive, swaying to invisible vibrations:
"I hear music."
There was, of course, no such sound that he could hear. The wind brushing the leaves of the trees made them shiver, here and there an engine in the distance, then closer by a barking dog. But no music. Still she danced, in circles now - like a gypsy - surpassing his lazy ease. A full 180 degrees for her to turn her back on him. He came up behind her, hands settling over her hips, chin resting on her saltcellar shoulder; feeling her slight fall backward into his warmth. Curious of what had brought her little gambol to such an abrupt end, his eyes soon found her target. He fancied he could hear the giggles in her head; it was a friendly disease. She was riveted.
The house was a home like any other in the myriad of small town rows - just slightly out of key. All other lights here were out. All other curtains here were drawn. Yet those of this house were not. Above them, on the upper floor, stood a girl behind the bare glass of a bedroom window - beyond her an empty room. As she watched them her hand touched the glass, pressed against it, leaving a smudgy reminder. A naked bulb rose behind her like a stolen sun.
When he returned to the room it appeared that she was gone. Appearances, however, were deceiving. The strong musk of her rewarded his rationalisation. Lifting the bedclothes that now flounced the floor, he found her untamed, making a den of beneath the bed.
"I'm a cat," she stated, suggesting the fact was obvious, raising a mock right-paw. He noticed the left against the floor tightly closed around a small hand mirror.
"And a fine moggy you are," he replied with a rogue's secret amusement. "Look what I've brought you," he announced, tugging at the bonds of the girl he had accosted and bound - presenting her like a long lost toy.
From under the bed, Drusilla stared at this new marvel. Slowly, she came out to see it - rising on long, very un-feline legs, still holding the mirror, that he now saw was encrusted with mother-of-pearl. It caught the light turning, and cast a fine band of gold across the captive girl's throat.
"Her name is Edith. She'd say hello, but I'm sure she'd scream first. And this house is not one for screamers - walls as thin as paper."
"Miss Edith?" Her first coherent sentence.
The mirror swayed in her fragile grasp as he lifted her wrist, gripping it between strong fingers: "What's this?" he asked, knowing he was sure to want for a sensible answer.
"Grand mummy's present." Returning her disjointed mental faculties to the other present in question, she asked her: "Do you have a mummy?"
The blindfolded girl could not speak but he sensed this line of inquisition bring her close to tears (somewhere, out in the night, her mother was dead and anaemic); her futile speech was obscured by the knotted gag.
"I have a daddy," Drusilla continued. "He lives by the sea."
He released Drusilla's wrist and it fell to her side as if weighted. She released the mirror, and he was forced to swoop to retrieve it before it hit the floor.
"Seven years of bad luck, Dru. I know you wouldn't want that."
Edith took this opportunity to skitter away from him, despite her disablement. Ricocheting off a dressing table, she fell over an ill-placed trunk, landing on the floor like a toppled log. The winding emptied an abrupt shriek into the material muffling her. Frantic and ungracious, she then tried to inch away like a birthing fish, hands tied behind her back, blind and dumb.
Satisfied that she was going nowhere and would exhaust herself for her troubles, he took to the bed, perching there. Keeping Drusilla under close observation. He stared for a moment at the mirror - at the candle behind him - right where he should have been.
Her augured tones drifted to him - captured by mystic certainty and something else.
"The mirror is angry - it will not see me."
Drawing her down with him and back onto his knee, he balanced upon the downy mattress:
"Well let's have a look shall we?"
He pulled her closer so that their cheeks were now in league, beckoning conspiracy; angling the mirror so that Edith was clearly reflected and visible to them both. The girl had turned on her side, chest heaving, she was clearly awaiting the inevitable judgement but far from peaceful for it.
"Looks like the mirror likes Edith there."
Drusilla smacked the mirror with sudden fluidity: "Bad mirror." She leaned back further onto his restless flanks, feeling his engorged reaction.
She wriggled, grazed his cheek slightly with her own but moved no further.
He was a python against her, finding her throat a fine thing to be nuzzled. Her ribcage was still as intriguingly small next to his own as before; his words were stops and starts, mashed around his agile tongue and her waxen skin. Fingers still gripped the handle of the mirror.
"Now why...would it not like...such a pretty thing...as you?"
Her own fingers disengaged around his, as she hovered up from the bed to Edith, crouching by her on the floor. Touching the gag, then the blindfold she removed neither. Edith paled considerably, her auburn curls gaining contrast.
"She wears laces," Drusilla reported gravely.
"They were her undoing." His reply was not without its humour.
Drusilla's demon swooned to the surface like a reptile floating from turbid depths. Pulling Edith upright by her whale-boned corset, she hesitated over the jugular - inadvertently frightening her sensorily deprived victim. Edith's heartbeat ripped on a freakish course that was sure to explode. He could taste her fear clear across the room. Drusilla's sharp canines sank to the soft flesh rending it, managing to catch the blood in her dead mouth. She gnawed at the neck. He did not stop her.
Edith's body stiffened and went into mild spasm, as Drusilla continued to devour her.
"That's my girl," he said.
The girl saw them. And they saw the girl.
The smile never entirely leaving his face, lingered.
"Looks like you've found one."
"It calls to me...lemons and bells and little dog tails. I smell death," was her answer.
He offered his arm, allowing her own to sidle through without her ever looking his way.
"Let's go visit, Dru," he said.
At the door he rang the bell. When he was drunk, Dru could get away with murder - and she very often did. As it was, his demented heir did not make a sound but stayed her eyes to the door as if her gaze would somehow penetrate it. The invitation in did not disturb him; failing the invitation in, there was always the invitation out. But the girl surprised him there - solving the problem for them.
Without a seconds pause she was a small mousy thing framed by the doorway, her heart still leaping from the run down the stairs. Her straw bob like a scarecrow's but a somehow pleasing mess; she was barely a woman but suggestive of a child, the eyes - when they came upon Drusilla - lighting from their vacuous sleep.
"Auntie!" she all but squeaked, pulling Dru by the arm across the threshold. "Davey's inside - I found him!" She raised a discontinuous, cautioning hand when turning to speak, noticing him and whispering. "I'm, Sally. Pleased to meet you." Back to Dru: "Be careful, he doesn't like noise."
Then she ran away on bare feet into the side (living, he presumed) room leaving Dru alone in the middle of the entrance hallway. He stepped freely across the threshold, strolling into his new domain. Sliding around Drusilla he took the first step of the stairs, intending to go up and find any surprises - knowing that whatever he killed would be for sport or Dru only. She stopped him. Her face suddenly a picture of solemnity.
"No one here but daddy - and daddy's dead."
Her face still held some secret disquiet. Descending, he slipped an arm around her and kicked the door shut. Sally could be heard in the next room, loudly announcing: "Bad. Bad. Bad."
He bit playfully at Dru's neck, and a light laugh escaped her. Padding softly out into the hallway a small black terrier looked at them squarely, turning its head at angles, deciding whether to bark. The first came out as a huff, the second was better formed. Dru leant down to touch it; he remembered she had ripped the ears off the last one. Suddenly, Sally appeared, scooping the dog into her arms and disappearing with it. Adding only, a pertinent: "You shouldn't talk to strangers." Not seeming to notice them there. Dru pouted then frowned.
"What's the matter?" His arms bound her at the waist to straighten her.
"I'm cold," she sulked.
He placed one of her hands against his lips.
"So you are."
She purred in his wandering grasp: "Mmm. Hot milk and scratches."
Freeing herself she led him to the room at the side.
It was, as he had thought, a room for living. He drew the curtains on his way in. Noticed the old-fashioned, olive sofa set, the fudge-coloured carpet; the old man - dead - seated on a cushioned chair next to an overgrown spider plant, looking for all the world as if he were sleeping. By his educated vampire eye, the man had died of natural causes - old age. Sally sat in the middle of the room, oblivious, surrounded by knives and forks and spoons - and, he observed, quite mad. Drusilla settled at the chair immediately before the girl, while he stood at the edge of an ugly table privately amused by the endless possibilities. Drusilla always found the needle in the haystack.
Sally looked up after arranging a red-handled kitchen knife on the floor by her ankle, as she wanted it.
"Are you staying for tea, Auntie?" she asked.
As he drifted by them to settle one seat down from Dru, removing the old man's glasses on the way - Dru shifted down to the floor her skirt floating slightly under her. She traced the handle of the red handled knife, with a red tipped finger.
"With hats and black china," she cooed and smiled at the girl.
The terrier, after sniffing warily at Drusilla's shoe, scampered back into the hall.
Darla was clearly not pleased with this state of affairs - the house was a dignified mess.
"Must you get her expensive presents? In expensive clothes? On my expensive floors?"
He came around his irked mistress, with just a tweak of conscience. Before regaining his sense of humour.
"Relax, my love, she's getting a taste."
Drusilla, sat on the hardwood floors in the same white gown of three nights ago, only now it was a little torn at the neck, exposing an indelicate amount of décolletage - the flesh now tinted with colour. Her lips rouged faintly, a weak drizzle of blood at the corner. She glowed with the spoils of her madness.
Darla tapped the steel foil at her toe impatiently, while Dru, still on the floor but kneeling, wrapped her arms lovingly around the corpse of a small girl. The girl, an elegant and faultless thing in life, had rigor mortised into a sitting position and was just beginning to rot.
Catching sight of the two of them taking her audience, Dru smiled a smile, as wicked as it was wide:
"My dolly is dead!"
"That's what happens to bad little girls," informed Darla, her sword arm clearly itching.
Dropping the girl and rolling onto the floor on her back, Dru giggled:
"I'm not bad. I'm full. Like the sky."
With a bony finger she counted invisible stars above her. Darla moved across the darkness, until she found Dru at her feet only neglecting to tread on the splayed hair.
"You have baron's feet." Dru said, noticing the fancy shoes.
Darla prodded her in the stomach with the foil, making her chirp. He crossed to the pair of them. The dead girl had fallen awkwardly; feet sticking out into nothing, her grey eyes - frozen open - seemed to follow him in the flicker of candlelight. Drusilla squirmed under the point of the blade.
"Darla. You'll draw blood -- she'll like it. And she'll stain your varnished floors." As he said it a red stain began to blot the cloth where Drusilla's solar plexus and the steel were one.
Darla seemed to consider this but her intention lost none of its stony purchase on the silver handle. She pressed down harder. Drusilla's cry had an echo of ecstasy.
"When are you going to kill her?" Darla's flat voice drifted up to him with polite venom.
He tried to disarm her and was effectively swatted away. Drusilla, still pinioned, watched their exchange without a word - watched him weave the words and watched Darla ignore them - until offering weakly to the standoff:
"He talks in the tongues of knives."
Darla's attention flicked back to Dru as if she had actually left her body, so faraway in thought. Raising the rapier from the wet material, she pointed it at the hollow of Drusilla's throat, noting how the bite marks and scar there had almost healed.
"It won't hurt, mummy. No, no..." The mad one's stare held fast the glassy eyes that hovered above her.
The tip of the steel moved away, gravitating over Drusilla's breast slightly below the left collarbone. There, Darla scratched a line that blood was quick to rush to, inflaming the skin. A small pleasured hiss escaped Dru's open mouth, her chest rising in pleasure.
"Cross your heart?" Darla's voice was a perfectly restrained growl. She drew a second line with precision, meeting the other exactly in a cross.
"And hope to die," Drusilla finished.
There had been no tea.
Drusilla seemed not to have noticed. For a moment, Sally had wandered off to search a nearby cupboard - seemingly full of junk - rummaged for a while and found a wooden box. In wondering what was in the box, Dru had seated herself on his lap, where it was an appreciated weight. He had lost a few buttons when she chose to claw his chest, responding to his earlier nips at her skin with a few of her own. A few moments longer and they were sure to be getting on in a method Spike would not approve of. But Sally opened the box and the resultant tinkling music, drew his childe's admittedly short attention away.
He picked up one of the framed pictures on the small table beside him. It showed a tall dark-haired woman and Sally, surrounded by others - adults and younger - smiling in sunnier times. Their embrace had the quality of the maternal. He broke the glass in order to pull the photo out; half-interestedly noticing that Dru was moving towards the standing, three-dimensional Sally, clearly enraptured by the box she had opened: a mouse ballerina twirled, twinkling at the centre of its repeating musical universe. He turned the photograph over, reading the writing: 1992 - Sally and Mabel. Written below it, in the same hand but by another pen, were the words: (Before the accident). Leaning over, he placed the photograph in the old man's lap, along with its broken frame, taking in the mad pair in the middle of room, who - after a pattern of mirroring each other - had partnered and taken to dancing - careful to avoid the forks and spoons and all else littering the carpet like a battlefield.
During this waltz, the little dog entered the room briefly, and upon seeing it Dru murmured:"The cow jumped over the moon."
The dog barked once and backed away. (He caught the aromatic smell of the wood from the front door it clawed at so desperately.)
Sally closed the gap between herself and Dru, cuddling her with addled dreams of Mabel. What surprised him was when Dru returned the hug; he heard more than one of the human's ribs crack.
As Drusilla span he saw her true face dip towards the enthralled girl's throat. Sally only wheezed a slight moan when Drusilla broke the skin and drank. He watched as the body drained of life, losing the will to dance, until Drusilla had to lift her to keep them both moving. The tempo slowed, crackling notes swinging out of time. On Dru's last swirl he saw her face had regained its humanity, the eyes vaguely moist. As the music died he heard her sobs. They sounded like laughter.
Her skewed symmetry was dear to him. It was part of her appeal - why he kept her boxed, as she was, in her insanity.
Dru was a broken haiku - and even that rhymed.