Stopping Time: Part One: Drusilla

She had thought maybe the stars would forgive her in time, but they never did. Hers was a quiet world, a world of shadows and lonely rooms and a bed as chaste as the one she'd hoped to fill long ago when she had believed in God and longed to serve him.

From bride of heaven to bride of no one at all.

She missed her dollies and their chatter as well. After a time, she had thrown the rest of the them on the fire, knowing they were wood and wax and fabric and not her friends any longer. Miss Edith sat in safety in Daddy's bird's cage. Sometimes she wondered if Miss Edith had gotten her tongue back. The pretty little sparrow would dearly love a friend. But that friend would never be Drusilla, not now.

"What did you do?"

There are tears falling like raindrops from leaves and Drusilla's heart melts like Marcie on the fire, but there's nothing for her but to wait for the tree to stake her.

It doesn't happen. The rain merely continues to fall and the little bird's wings flutter as she crashes to the ground. "Why?" she asks after a time.

"I love him," Drusilla answers.

"I hate you." Willow's words tear into Drusilla's heart like talons into warm flesh. But they both know she'd do nothing to change what is. Not even if she could. Because she can.

No, Drusilla did nothing to alter what she'd brought about. Sometimes a sly sort of sanity that wore Spike's clothes and spread his smile over her like jam on bread would come and ask questions she couldn't answer. All the questions began with 'why' and after that, Drusilla could not understand another word. She had never asked why before and it slipped through the knots in her mind and scampered away as if it were made of whirling dust.

Her boy, her besotted one…he was gone. She never wondered if he was looking for her. She didn't need the stars to whisper the truth: No one loved Drusilla anymore.

"Make her love me," Daddy roars, nearly tearing her door from its hinges as he bursts into her room. "You can do it. Make her love me."

He's been with his cold dolly again. Drusilla can smell her tears and distance on Daddy's skin.

"I can't," she whispers, afraid of her Angel more than she has ever been, wishing she could find the tongue to tell a lie. Soon, she fears, she will burn like her dollies, but there's nothing to be done.

"You can. You have to." He sounds pleading now, even touches her. She marvels at the feel of her hands in his. His fingers are spiders, weaving a beseeching song out of the threads of her skin.

"I could make her believe she loves you for a little while…when you lie with her," she offers even as she knows it's nothing he wants. It's almost a pity. She could assuage her own sorrow at planting the poor tree in this garden of stones if she could somehow ease her suffering. If only she were able to make the little sparrow love the hawk who kept her…how much happier they all would be.

He says nothing, but she thinks she sees tears in her Daddy's eyes as he leaves her. It will be many long days before she hears his voice again.

That was one of the days when she thought of the things she could do – of how she could give herself up to the dust by setting the caged bird free…of how she perhaps could undo her binding…of how she could bring the little one into the same dark world where she and Daddy lived their lifeless lives. She did none of those things; she would do none of those things. She loved her Angel and she could do nothing that would go against his wishes. It was bare, cold safety and nothing more that he offered her, but for all that it wasn't, it was safety, and in a silent, strange world, safety was diamonds and rubies strung on chains of blood and solace.

Willow would understand, she was sure.

"I'm sorry," she says softly as she tiptoes into the little girl's room. She can come in as she pleases, though she's only done so for the first time today. What are locks to such as she?

Miss Edith is on the floor in the corner, bustle over teakettle - naughty, horrid thing. It seems her new Mommy could not make her behave.

Willow – Drusilla keeps her name at the ready now, names are important – says nothing, just looks off into nothingness and never bothers to gather the raindrops in her cistern.

She can smell the blood and Daddy's essence. Were her body Drusilla's, those scents would be evidence of pleasure, but the tree is not their kind and when she screams, it's no hymn of celebration sung to the demon gods. It is nothing but the anguish of emptiness and agony.

"Are you all right?" What a funny thing to ask. Drusilla's not sure she's ever strung those words together in such a fashion, but she's said them now and she can no more take them back than her human Mummy could have stuffed newborn Drusilla right back up into her belly.

Did she ever wish she could have?

It's a terrible, scourging thought and suddenly Willow is not the only one shedding tears. For the second time since she ripped the girl bleeding from the body of her peaceful world, she finds those soft, warm arms around her.

William knew words for this, but he never gave them to Drusilla.

Daddy was certainly able to tell she'd been in the room, but he never said a word. She knew what that meant and there was a time when that would have set the rage to roaring within her, but that hour had long since chimed and the little cuckoo was laying dead on the floor beneath the clock. She was a docile, broken thing now, just like Daddy's new princess…no more fear and fire and shaking mortals cowering at the sound of her name. She was a sinner in the hands of an angry Angel-god…and she knew her place.

They are all sitting at table. It's Willow's birthday again. Her name is a bright, beautiful thing today – it's shining from sparkly banners hung all about. "Happy Birthday, Willow," they scream in purple and red and orange and yellow. Drusilla thinks it's all so pretty and festive and she wishes the swirling ribbons and streamers could dance for the birthday girl and coax a smile from her as they do from Dru. She can't help herself – there's something about a party.

She gets up and sings to herself, dancing away from her chair. It's not the same without the voices and their music, but twirling about is still pleasant and, more importantly, familiar. If she acts like the once-beloved favorite of the stars, perhaps they'll come home.

She tries not to look at the sad, turned-down corners of Willow's mouth or the irritation in her Angel's eyes. She just keeps dancing. Perhaps on *her* birthday, a prezzie will come. Until then, she will lick the crumbs from Daddy's plate. She's a good girl and never forgets that she's lucky to get any dinner at all.

When the party is over, and the cake is gone, it's Daddy's turn to unwrap *his* present. Soon there will be screams.

Willow is crying as they leave Drusilla alone in the beautiful room. She fills her mind with candy canes and she just keeps dancing.

End Drusilla