DISCLAIMER: Joss' toys. My playground.


SPOILERS: None. Just pure Spike speculation.

He was laying on his back. Someone was calling him. Someone coaxing him to wake up. A soft, seductive voice. The woman sang simple songs and her voice was like warm water, flowing over his consciousness and caressing it to life. He stirred, eyes refused to open so he tried to place the voice. He tried to remember falling asleep. He couldn't. Where he was. Who he was. All of it eluded him, all but the voice.

"Wake up, my pretty boy. My precious pet," it curled into the recesses of his being. Filling the emptiness that used to be something...else. What was it? What had he lost? He stirred, trying to remember. "Come to me, love. The pain is gone. It's just us now. Us and the others." The voice called him back from his memories, swirling his thoughts, mixing reality with what should have been. It became a fascinating dance, capturing him entirely, building towards a crescendo he was only beginning to imagine.

Then another sensation started to grow. A hollow emptiness in his gut introduced itself. It tapped on the shoulder of his conscious, cutting into the voice-dance. He ignored it. It waited. "Time to wake up, beautiful one. Come up from your rest." He and the voice swayed, it was sensual and hypnotic. The other tapped him again, harder. He tried to push away the intruder, but it grabbed him by the throat. Hunger.

Hunger unlike any he'd ever known before. It crawled into him and began to devour him from the inside out. It distracted him from the woman's sound, with its new, darker call, one more intense, more urgent, more primal. The need became everything. He followed it away from her, towards depths he feared. It drew him deeper, and deeper he followed. He chased it, gained on it, collecting essences of pain, of violence and of power it left in its path. He raced to know it, to become it.

As the power and the need became one his eyes exploded open. He raged at the light, at the shackles at his hands and feet, at the others surrounding him. He felt new strength in his arms as he pulled against his chains. His face and mouth contorted to rail against that which was holding him from his need.

The woman was there. "Welcome, William," she crooned, "we've been waiting for you." He growled in his thirst. "There, there, pet. Nothing to fear, nothing here to frighten you." He was becoming aware of her. He began to relax. "The hunger hurts you. It is a lover, it teases you, wanting you to take it too soon. But we will teach you, we will show you how to be patient, how to please it and yourself."

Her words were soothing, but the hunger was incessant. He watched as she brought him a cup. The smell wafted toward him, the most blessed aroma he'd ever known. It smelled of sweetness, of fulfillment and of life itself. She waved the cup over lips. He raised his head, craning his neck for the nectar. Sucking in the aroma feeling it envelop him. She held the cup inches from his reach. "Yes, William, yes. This is what you want. Warm, red." She dipped her finger deep into the cup and held it to his lips. He licked it hungrily, his tongue wrapping tightly around her finger, searching for every scrap of the miracle he'd just tasted.

It burned down his throat like a fine liquor, warming him. It drove away the dark, and at the same time united him with it.

Dru reveled in his desire. She'd created him and he was everything she wanted. She crawled up on the side of the bed and lifted his head to the cup. "Yes, love, drink it. Drink deeply, my sweet boy. Soon there will be more. Yes, much, much more."

The liquid poured down his throat like heat. He hadn't realized how cold he'd felt until the blood warmed his stomach. It spread out from there, surging through his empty veins, feeding his new strength. His head was filled with thoughts of power, something he'd never felt before. He finished the cup and, yes, he wanted more.

He was fully awake now. Testing his 'new' body against his restraints. He no longer considered what might have happened to make him this way. It was the way he was meant to be. He watched the woman caress his arms, his legs. Her long hair swaying as her body moved. She was at once distance and clarity, fragile and terrible. He knew she would be his and as she released his bonds, she was.

She welcomed him to their brotherhood freely. She withheld nothing; her body, her blood, her knowledge, her prophesy. She was utterly his and he was dizzy with it. Everything about her fascinated him as she drew him farther and farther from his former self into a dark and dangerous world. It was exciting, intoxicating. Fear was something he no longer felt, but inspired. With time he began to remember his past with disgust and he shared its loss with joy in intimate moments with her. He'd never known such happiness.

At first she fed him, and then they began to hunt together. He would study her as she neared a kill, fascinated by her art. She would select the prey, show him how to stalk it, separate it from the others, approach it and strike. He mastered each new skill as quickly as she could show him and they began to seeking out victims together, to sate his thirst for blood, and satisfy his lust for power. Soon they were no longer teacher and pupil, but a team of predators. They knew each other's thoughts, their moves, their skills and they were unstoppable.

He learned about his new existence. Surprised to discover that the predators were also prey, he learned to defend himself. He studied vampires like a historian, making notes and reading books. He considered the Slayer legends with care and wondered at the truth of such fantasy.

His immediate concern was with the elders. The blonde woman and the man who was his lover's sire were dominant, but he still needed them. He obediently acknowledged that need, but his newfound abilities made him bold. He rebelled openly, taking unacceptable chances. They would discipline, but he would persist. It was a battle he enjoyed. And with each mutinous success he discovered moments of supremacy, which became his new god.

On the anniversary of their second month together, he made his first unaccompanied kill. The four of them had agreed that it was time to move on to somewhere else and he begged to complete his initiation before then. He had planned it for weeks and when he made his way into the hotel ballroom undetected, he had already singled out his victim from the party guests. He observed her for long hours as she danced and flirted. She was as beautiful as he'd remembered, with long brown hair and large round eyes. He watched as she collected names on her dance card. She was constantly surrounded by admirers.

He watched, recalling long hours having done just that before, when he had been too nervous, too shy, too afraid to do anything about it. And he remembered other things too, the longing, the pain, the cruelty. Now he smiled to himself, knowing exactly what to do, what he would say. At 9:30 her escort gathered her into her wrap and they walked out into the night. They were unaware they still had one dance left to go.

He saw them climb into a carriage and then he slipped into a side street that would lead him to her door. He would arrive before them and wait.

Their carriage pulled up to the door at 9:45 and the tall gentleman at her side jumped out, turning around to assist her. She gathered up her skirts and slid towards the door. She reached out to take her escort's hand and stepped down to the ground. She looked up to thank him for his help. The face was not his. She was startled, but the face was a familiar one. She turned her attention to her missing escort, looking around curiously to see where he'd gone.

"'He's not here," he explained.

She looked up in surprise, not sure whether to be curious or concerned. "William?"

"Yes, Cecily?" He tried to talk and seem as much like his old self as possible, but his old self had been so deferential, so unlike he was now. He could hardly believe that he had existed at all.

"Where's Fred?"

"Gone," it was the simple answer. He stepped forward and dismissed the carriage. It disappeared slowly down the empty street.

She watched it with growing annoyance. "Gone where?" she demanded to know.

"He's gone ahead, Cecily," he explained.

She was bewildered, "What do you mean?"

"Come with me, and you'll understand." Curiosity got the better of her and she followed William across the street and into the park. She didn't see Fred laying behind the bushes, his neck twisted fully around on his shoulders.

He led her to a bench away from the street. He wiped it off for her and gestured for her to sit. She obliged. "William, I wish you'd tell me what's going on. I haven't seen you for months and now you appear outside my carriage. Explain yourself."

"Cecily, I am leaving town and I had to see you one last time," he began. He sat down on the bench, the image of a beaten man, hands twitching nervously, knees together, back bent.

"It's late William, and I don't like to be out here alone. I thought I had made myself perfectly clear the last time we met."

"Yes, Cecily. It was...perfectly clear," he straightened his back. "Your exact words were that I was "beneath you"." As he spoke, the confidence he'd had instilled over the last two months crept forward, chilling her. "Dear Cecily, that was very cruel."

"I," she stammered.

"You were right." She was surprised. "I was nothing compared to you. You were beautiful, poised, desirable...effulgent." She looked at her hands modestly. "But Cecily, I've changed. I'm not the man I was." She looked at him, carefully. His entire demeanor was indeed different. His posture, his mannerisms, his clothing. He no longer looked at her over thickly corrective spectacles. There was something interesting about him now.

"Yes, William, I can see that. What has happened to you?"

"I learned something. A secret," he smiled at her. A slow, teasing smile full of intrigue and possibility spread across his face. "A delicious, dark secret," he leaned nearer to her. She hadn't noticed how handsome he was before. Before, when he'd been an embarrassment, a lovesick puppy following her around, begging for crumbs. "I want to share the secret with you now, Cecily, before I go," he drew nearer still. "May I?"

She backed up slightly. He was frightening her, but it was exciting at the same time. His cheek brushed hers as he reached to whisper in her ear. Somewhere in the back of her mind she wondered what happened to Fred. "Cecily" he whispered. "it's blood, Cecily. It carries our desires, our warmth, our health, our very lives. It is what makes us...human." His lips fell to her unprotected shoulder, his lips brushing her soft skin. She gasped at his intimacy, at her attraction to him. He kissed her neck softly. "It binds us and connects us. Blood makes us...equal."

With that, he shifted form and embedded his teeth in her neck. Her screams were muffled, he hardly heard them. His lips surrounded the bite as he sucked the life from her. The taste of her was in his mouth, in his throat and in his veins. He drank deeply of that which he had desired and had at last until she fell limply in his arms. The thrill of success swam through is veins with her blood. He sat her back on the bench and stood, licking drops of her from his lips.

He looked up at the sky. The stars were bright, sparkling jewels, flashing celebration at his victory. He was drunk with it. He looked back at his victim, sitting still on the bench in the dark. He laughed. He had won. At the last moment, she had wanted him. Him, William the Bloody Awful Poet.

Then something else came to him. Something he had not known in his new life. Regret.

William had loved Cecily passionately. He'd written volumes of poetry about her, fantasized about her and held her close in his dreams. His hopes had lived in her existence and now...they didn't. He looked at her pale, fragile face. Lovely even in death. Once he had dreamed of sitting at the seaside, holding her hand, watching their children frolic in the waves. Now she was getting cold at his side, her neck torn and bloody at his hand. It wasn't fair. Why should he be feeling this way? Why couldn't he, just once, enjoy what he COULD have or have what he could enjoy? A dream, a curse, a victory, a love? A random tear made it's way down his face and he wiped it away with an angry hand.

Damn. Damn. Bloody hell. Damn. He turned away from her. Unable to continue looking. As he turned away from her, he shut and locked doors of memory forever. He'd never again think of William and Cecily. He'd remake himself with a new name, a new passion. Life wasn't fair. Funny thing, neither was death. But with Dru it could be a grand adventure. He walked on through the park and didn't look back. The next time he fell in love, it'd be different.