London, 1892. Spike, Dru, Angel, and Darla have returned to London. Spike is slumming it when he has an opportunity to take revenge against an old Oxford rival. One shot.

Usual Disclaimer: I do not own anything.

The Picture

London, 1892

Spike swallowed a mouthful of whiskey. The glass was dirty, full of dust and smudged with fingerprints that were not his own. But he didn't much care. It was pretty much what he expected from a place like this.

He didn't come here for the ambiance. The room was dark, dusty. Dingy and dilapidated. The few lit gas lamps did little to illuminate the room, and the portions of the room on which they did shed their light probably would have been best left in darkness. He was sitting at the grimy bar, sticky with spilt liquor and coated with dirt. The room smelt of old ale and stale spirits.

He was alone in the room, except for a couple of old whores sitting at the other end of the bar. They were wrinkly, worn women, tired from a hard life and harder use. They smelt vile, rancid and sour. They smelt of death and disease. The first time he had come to this place, they had approached him. Propositioned him. Promised him the pleasure that their old foul sagging bodies could never provide. They had learned quickly not to bother him. He had killed one, breaking her neck, not daring to drink her rank blood, but at least he had made himself clear. They had not approached him again. Besides, they had quickly observed that he never paid for anything, and women like them were no longer interested in performing favors for free.

The heavy sweet smell of opium saturated the room, wafting down in from the dens up the stairs, blanketing the room with its intoxicating and nauseating odor.

This was not the kind of place that pitiful William would have ever dared to enter. Not the kind of place that privileged twit even knew existed.

It was certainly not the kind of place of which mother would have approved.

But mother was dead. And for that matter, so was William. He lived in darkness now. And since he and the others had returned to England, this was the kind of place he fancied to frequent. He took another drink of his whiskey, savoring the way the cheap liquor burned his throat. He laughed to himself. It felt good to be here. To be reveling in this squalor, enjoying this decay of human life. This was a place of despair, a place of death, of anarchy, of oblivion. He laughed again, aloud this time. This place made him feel so alive. The irony was that he did feel alive, more alive than he ever had when he was actually living. So unrestrained. So free. So invincible.

This wasn't even the sort of place of which Angelus would approve. His grandsire could be a decent bloke. He did have an admirable mean streak. And Spike enjoyed his sadism, as long as it wasn't directed toward him. But he was too rigid. He needed to relax. Let himself go once and a while. Enjoy his unlife a little. He was too controlled, too meticulous. Too anal. Spike couldn't understand how he could have so much power and not let loose and enjoy it.

Because down here in the mire, nobody cared about the body count. He reveled in destruction, in death, in darkness, without worrying the others. When one's taste wasn't expensive, one could afford to binge. To indulge. To bloody let go and have a good time. A veritable bacchanal of blood. The thought of it made him right giddy. Angelus and the others didn't know what they were missing.

That pathetic ninny William had been the kind of man who didn't like to think about dark, unpleasant things. He preferred his pouncy poetry, which was unpleasant enough. But Spike, now that he had been freed, saved, he loved the darkness. It enthralled him. He reeled in it. It intoxicated him.

Plus, he could get a pretty good high from draining one of the sodden blokes who stumbled down from the upper rooms.

They were pretty easy to pick off. Lost in their own oblivion, they didn't notice the young man who followed them out of the den. The silent young man, cloaked in shadows, moving as quietly as a cat through the London streets. And by the time they did, it was already too late. His fangs were already in their necks. Their blood coating his mouth, dripping down his chin, sliding down his throat. The drugs singing in his veins, clouding his mind, guiding him to euphoria.

He smiled at the thought of it, the anticipation. He would take one tonight. He would savor it. He would go home and fuck Dru with the opium still coursing through him.

Dru preferred children to drug addicts. Her mind was already so full of visions, she was already so fragile, so mad, she didn't need, couldn't handle, the effects of the drugs.

Maybe on his way home he swing by one of the posher areas of London, nab some young noble woman or virtuous serving girl for Dru. Bring her home a treat. He loved to bring her gifts. Anything for his black goddess. His salvation.

The door opened and Spike heard the step of a man. The whores looked up, eager to assess him as a potential customer. "Oh," one exclaimed, her voice heavy with her cockney accent. "Well, 'ello, if isn't Prince Charmin'. Slummin' it are you, darlin'?"

Spike, suddenly intrigued, turned around. He smirked at the young fop, his dandy suit and with an orchid through the button hole. His blond curls were shining, his complexion fair. Spike scoffed and turned around. He had no real interest in young gentlemen. They reminded him of the life he had left behind. The life from which he had been saved.

The man moved over to where Spike was lounging at the bar, probably because he sitting opposite from the whores. The young man settled down a stool, waiting for the bartender to amble back over to serve him a scotch.

Spike kept his head down. His hair was mostly pulled back, some straggly strands hanging around his face, and he was dressed in shabby unkempt clothes, a pair of trouser and stained shirtsleeves, no jacket, no waistcoat. He had lost his pouncy suits and top hats once he stopped being William. Once he let Dru take him and he gave up his mediocre human life for the transcendent immortality he had been offered. The darkness he had embraced. He had rejected society. Its formality. Its restrictions. Its rules.

He eyed the man from his periphery, tilting his head only slightly. Despite the shadows that engulfed the room, he could see him clearly, his vampire eyes easy penetrating the gloom of the room. This young man was such an emblem of everything he had rejected. Sitting there refusing to touch any of the scum around him. Disgusted by his surrounding, trying to build the courage to climb up the stairs to the intoxication of opium. He was so young, his skin clear and smooth, his lips slightly parted.

There was something familiar in his expression. Spike burst into laughter. The young man eyed him uneasily. "I know you." He chortled.

"I'm afraid that you are certainly mistaken," the man said stuffily. Hypocritical twit, crawls down into the dregs of society and then acts like his above it all. Like its all beneath him.

"Oh no, mate, I do. I know you. Gray, isn't it. You hung around that pouncy bugger, Wilde. He wrote that story about you. I would know you anywhere," he laughed again. This was too rich.

"You insolent scum. How dare address your betters so familiarly."

"My betters," he scoffed, "you don't know who you're talking to, you nit. I used to run in your circles."

"It would appear, then, if what you say is true, that you have fallen far."

Spike smirked, "That's where you're wrong, mate. I haven't come down in this world, I've been moving up."

"It hardly would appear that way."

"What can I say? Appearances can be deceiving. And speaking of appearances, friend, yours has changed this I saw you last."

"What do you dare to insinuate, you presumptuous cur?"

"You've gotten old, mate. You're not a fresh faced boy any longer. You're complexion's not quite as clear, not as taut. Those hints of wrinkles begin to cobweb around your eyes, furrows beginning scroll across your brow. Wilde might have been able to write your eternal youth, but he couldn't stop age from inscribing your features. Its creeping over you, consuming you. It has you, Gray, and there is no escape."

"You lie."

Spike snorted a laugh. "It haunts you doesn't it. Wilde might have venerated your beauty, immortalized your youth, but you are far from immortal. You are ten years younger than me, but no one would know that by looking at us. I was at Oxford with that bugger, Wilde." He hated that pouncy Wilde, despised him. William had been finishing his degree when Wilde had come to Magdalen College. He had tried to befriend Wilde, talk to him about poetry, believing them to be kindred souls, thinking that they would find comradely through their poetry, their art. But Wilde had insulted him. That Irish dog had mocked him. Well, he had mocked and insulted William. He had said something witty and cutting about his poems. William had done nothing more than blither like the sodden imbecile he was, but now, Spike, would take his revenge. He would ruin Wilde's pet, defile the muse of his art, he would take his lover. It was a gift dropped into a demon's lap by some devil.

"It cannot be true. You are far too young, scoundrel."

"Believe what you like, but I have discovered the true way to retain youth. A thing that you can only imagine in your pretty stories. I have discovered freedom from age and life and death. Freedom, pleasure, euphoria of which you, mate, can only dare to dream."

The young man looked at him, his lips still parted. He was curious, intrigued, enthralled not yet allowing himself to believe Spike's words but desperate for their truth. It was too easy really, Spike thought, to seduce this man with the promise of immortality. His fears, his desires had been written so clearly across Gray's face.

"I wish I but knew your secret. I would sell my soul to be young forever."

"You have to," Spike responded. He saw the young man shudder. "But its not such a taxing thing, you know, losing your soul. Once gone, it is nothing more than a painful memory. Nothing more but a reminder of your moral inadequacies. The value of a soul is not in having it, but in losing it. In what you can trade it for. The power. The freedom. The pleasure," he purred the last words. And the young man shuddered again, not from fear, but from desire.

"Help me," Gray said fiercely. "Show me how I can be like you. I'll pay you. Wealth, women, whatever I have will be yours."

"Not here," Spike murmured. He glanced across the bar at the whores, "too many watchful eyes and busy tongues. Leave now and I will follow. Stay close."

"But how will you find me?" Gray asked.

"I will smell your desire. Go."

The young man got up and walked to the door. He turned around, glancing fervently at Spike once more before exiting the seedy den. Spike did not meet his gaze, but stared into his drink.

The whores cackled at the gentleman's exit. "Now wat did you say to make such a pretty prince run away, you nasty man?" the loudest of the women called to him. He ignored her, but the woman continued. "O', so that's it is, is it? That's the game you play. Let the lord fairy bugger you for 'alf a crown. No wonder you never 'ad any interest in me and my girls."

Spike violently struck the bar with his fist. "One more word out of your filthy mouth and I'll show you the game I play. I'll rip your bloody throat out."

The woman's eyes bulged in fear. She knew, they all knew, that he did not make idle threats. He had established quite a reputation as a monster around these parts. "Meant no 'arm by it, master," the whore choked out, "please don't 'urt me. I got a child, little girl, depends on me."

"Save your sodden sob story and your begging. I wouldn't touch diseased cunt like you unless I had to. But one more word and I will kill that little girl. I like it best when they scream," he growled and sneered. He gulped down the rest of his drink, slamming the glass onto the bar, shattering it.

"Monster," he heard one of the women whisper. To a human, the exclamation would have been inaudible, but with his heightened senses he heard her perfectly.

He barked out a laugh. "You have no idea. I think thing fucking nightmares are made of, ladies." He mocked a bow to the whores, who huddled together. He could smell the ripe fear wafting off of them, one more odor added to the pungent mixture of the den. He laughed again and slammed the door behind him.

Spike entered the London street, inhaling a lung full of air. He could clearly smell the human filth that pervaded this part of the city. The trash and shit, the unwashed bodies, the rotting life. But he could also smell Gray. His desire was smell, his trail was clear.

He found the gentleman in an alley, pressed against a wall, in the shadows. He could see the young man tense and then breathe a sigh of relief as he recognized the form that approached him. "I was afraid you would not come," he whispered.

"You should have been afraid that I would."

"I am not afraid."

"You should be. Do you wish to see the face of your salvation?"

The man trembled. "Yes," he whispered.

"It is the face of a demon. Of the damned. It is the face that haunts babes' dreams. It is the face of evil," he shifted into his vampire face, "and it is the last face your beautiful face will ever look upon." He stepped closer to the man. Through the darkness, Gray could begin to see the vampire's face, his burning yellow eyes, his reptilian brow, his protruding fangs. The young man cried out, his features contorted with fear. But his cry was quickly stifled, as Spike covered the man's mouth with his hand, wrenching his head to the side. "This is the kiss of immortality," Spike whispered, "careful, it stings." And he buried his fangs deep into the gentleman's neck and drained him.

"Bloody pouncy fool," Spike laughed as he tossed the lifeless body to pavement. It would be found tomorrow, no doubt, by some street urchin or washer woman. Maybe it would be reported to the police. Maybe not. He had considered turning Gray. But the man was such a vain ninny, he was undeserving of this gift, this power, this freedom, this salvation. It would have been fucking entertaining to see what kind of havoc the gentleman's demons would reek, but he already had too many pompous hoity-toity prissy vampire sods to contend with.

He returned to the townhouse where he was staying the Angelus, Darla, and Dru. They had returned to London and in need of accommodations, slaughtered the whole family. He could heard Angelus fucking Darla, the tenor of her moans identifying her. Good, that meant that tonight Dru was his. He walked up to her room.

Dru was standing at the window, staring out into the street. "My sweet Willie, I wondered when you would be home. The fairies in my head told me that you were being a very naughty boy. Are you a naughty boy, my darling?"

"What can I say Dru," he snarled, "I'm a very bad man."

"Naughty, naughty," she growled and looked up at him, "oh my Spike, you look pretty as a picture. Who have you been feeding on? You're glowing. Like a portrait. So bright. Framed in gold. Can I touch you?" She moved toward him, slowly.

"I'm not in a museum, love. You can touch me all you want. Prefer it if you did." He grinned.

"No, they only put old dead things in museums. Mustn't touch," she reached up, brushing her finger across some of the crusted dried blood at the corner of his mouth. "And you're vibrant. So alive. The stars are singing through you tonight, Willie. Such sweet songs. I can heard them in my head, like a dreamy lullaby. They paint me a picture with their song." He grabbed her, pulling her into his arms, crushing her lips to his. "You taste like poesy. Pretty words. Pretty pictures. Pretty Spike."

Spike kissed her neck, his hands caressing her breasts. "Dru," he moaned. "I love you."

"Yes," she whispered in his ear. "Now show me what a bad dog you are, my beautiful boy."