Standard Disclaimers Apply
A/N : From the Spring Tic Tac Tales ficathon - prompts : Swiss Dagger, Rosh Hashanah, Bewildered
Warnings : Attempted rape, genital mutilation, Nazi thugs being Nazi thugs.
"We were in Poland, back before you Yanks got into the Second World War. It was before the true camps, but after the push to the ghettos had started. I'd say it was a bad time to be a Jew, but that would imply that there'd been noticeably good times to be a Jew in Poland."
He was feeding me while he talked - finger foods as usual, chicken nuggets and fries today instead of the Asian food kick he'd been on the last few days. He even dipped for me and somehow he always found the perfect condiment balance after a few mouthfuls even with me quiet and trying not to show any distaste he might find rude. I gave up on rudeness very early on, believe you me.
"Point is, wasn't the safest place for a bloke in a beanie and prayer shawl and a dark haired lass dressed orthodox to be walking down the street at dusk, but it was Rosh Hashanah, so must to Temple, yeah?" He pinned me with a quick look. "You know what Rosh Hashanah is, doncha?"
I nodded quickly, and at his continued silence whispered, "Willow was Jewish, we did High Holidays together a few times when we were younger." He smiled his approval and gave my cheek a soft stroke after feeding me another fry. He was in one of his gentle moods, it seemed. Good.
"So we were scurrying along, trying to move quickly without drawing attention by going too fast; proper little prey, we looked. She was clinging tight to my arm, trusting me to be her protector, and I was the perfect part of the soothing hubby." A nugget dipped in honey left a smear on my chin and he licked a finger to clean it off like Wills' mom used to do. "We had just taken a shortcut down an alley and when we came out the other side, there they were."
"There's this classic dilemma that prey faces when they're confronted with a predator, especially the kind of predator that likes to play. One part of your mind is screaming at you to run, that escape is the only hope, but another part is telling you that when you run, they pounce and if you can just stay calm and steady enough maybe you can pretend not to be prey and make it." Yeah, I've been there. I know that isn't what he felt the night he was turned, that was the first story he told me. Maybe he was just talking about what he's seen in victims' eyes, or maybe he had felt it as a human. He's kinda a little guy, vamp strength aside. "They were watching us have that debate inside ourselves, four big bruisers with brown shirts and Swastika armbands. Think they wanted us to run, have a good chase and pounce, but when we froze in fear and I tried to stutter out a request to pass, that got their motors running as well."
"My Polish was pretty good, if a little old fashioned - we'd spent about a year in that area staying with an old school Master back before the turn of the century. Good enough for them not to notice an accent with me stuttering along. So they just laughed and gathered into the mouth of the alley still giving us a chance to turn and run if we wanted. Wolf pack, though they figured themselves the pinnacle of evolution."
I finished the last fry and he held a water bottle to my lips; perfect tilt as always and never too long so I started to choke. I wondered sometimes just how much practice he had at keeping a pet high schooler. Maybe I could ask if I made the question about her. If he didn't already have a story in mind next time.
"She clung to my arm even tighter and I could feel her trembling. They could see it too, and there's me trying to act like this is some normal, civil thing - telling them all our papers were in order and suchlike. They just laughed, one of them said we were born to be paper pushers, so of course our papers were in order. They crowded in closer, herding us against the wall where they had us trapped."
He gathered the takeout wrappers and empty sauce packets up and went to the door to toss it all in a bag he kept just outside the room. None of the minions were allowed in here even to clean. He didn't trust them with me, and he was keeping me safe. "They started poking at our clothes, asking why we were in our Easter Sunday best when it was nowhere near. She spoke up then, her Polish not as good as mine, but stumbling over her words in fear so they never noticed. Said that we were going to celebrate the New Year and didn't want to make any trouble."
"They laughed louder, said it wasn't the real New Year. One of them told me he didn't know how I could claim to be a Pole when I didn't even use the same calendar. That if we wanted to be a separate people, we better know that we were lower than the real folks, not higher." He was getting undressed, damn I freaked the first time he did that, scrambled off the bed and as far as my leash would let me. He'd just rolled his eyes at me and said I was staying in reach so he didn't have to keep track of me in his sleep and pulled me back to hook my collar straight to the headboard. From the stories of sharing playmates with her I know he's not adverse to humans or males, so apparently my unattractiveness is working in my favor for once. Or he's just too much in mourning.
"Another one of them, looked like the leader, started talking about how nice our clothes were, and how it was wrong to dress trash up like that. He pulled this Swiss style dagger, the kind that was big with the Nazis..." He must have caught my confusion, because he walked to the weapons chest he had been rummaging earlier before the minions brought the food and brought a knife over to the bed. It was fancy looking with guards curved inward on both sides of the hilt, and a swastika at the base of the blade. Guess that's what got him remembering this to begin with.
"He was using it to toy with her clothes, all scary like." He had settled into the bed with me, and even playing with the knife I couldn't help but notice I wasn't scared when he got close like this anymore. "Said no Jew trash should be wearing ivory, and started cutting the buttons off. The others were grinning and nudging each other, figured they were gonna have a real good time. She started shaking harder, crying. I decided it was time for Brave Protector Hubby to make an appearance and pulled her behind me telling him he had no right to treat a decent woman that way." A broad grin, startling even when he was in one of his better moods split his face at the memory. "Bingo."
"In charge guy gut punched me and shoved me over to one of his cronies to hold. Then ripped her top right open, saying that there were no decent Jewish women, just sluts and whores, the difference being if they were talented enough to pay." He gently turned me around and undid the cuffs on my wrists. I hadn't been trying to fight them but they were still rough, and he tutted over the chafing as he reached for the salve he kept by the bed. "Have to send a minion out for some lined cuffs, these are hurting you even when you're good."
I couldn't help but melt a little at the caring tone, especially while he was treating my scrapes so gently. (No, I've never heard of Stockholm Syndrome, so shut up and let me enjoy my delusions.) He slid the soft leather sacks over my hands and I made loose fists without being asked so they could be closed snugly just before my wrists. They had what I couldn't help but think of as child-proof buckles that he always used both hands to open and I'd never be able to do with my mouth unless I developed super tongue strength. That, and the fact that he'd told me the first time he put them on that if he smelled a trace of my spit on them in the evening I'd sleep hogtied from then on, kept me from even trying.
"So there's one guy holding me while his buddy starts whaling on me, and the other wanker was holding onto her for his boss. I'm yelling, she's crying, and boss-man said to put her on her knees and started opening his trousers. Guy holding me whispered that if he was gonna be last for a go at her, he might settle for my mouth, cause I'm real pretty for a bloke." I had to stifle a snicker at the eye roll the memory inspired. "Yeah, no one had ever told me that over the better part of a century. Was old by the time I was your age."
I found myself trying to envision him as a teen - a human teen. Probably still pale, but even more delicate looking in the face. And he was pretty, especially when he wasn't angry or upset. "So boss-man pulls his dick out, and I swear if someone hadn't been trying to beat the shit out of me I would have laughed. Could tell what that tosser was compensating for when he joined the goose-steppers."
"He laid the flat of his blade against her cheek and told her to open up. She did, looking up with tears in her eyes. Then, right when he shoves into her mouth, she shifts her face." I was torn between crossing my legs and hiding under the bed, applauding the poetic justice, and laughing hysterically at the imagined look on the Nazi's face when he saw his would be victim's eyes turn gold. He grinned at my reaction and shifted me around to pull down the covers and shorten my leash.
"She plucked the dagger out of his hand and shoved it into the crotch of the one holding her shoulders, but stayed right where she was. Boss-man was screaming like a bint in one of those horror films, and she was just holding onto his hips to keep him still. I shoved backwards so the bloke holding me slammed into the alley wall and made a nice messy meal of the one that had been hitting me. By the time the other had gotten up, I was in his face all covered with his mate's blood, asking if I was still pretty this way. The sorry sod was crying and praying and I just snapped his neck, no fun to play with one that breaks that fast, yeah?"
"She had the boss down on the ground finishing her meal and I twisted the knife out of the last one so he'd bleed out nice. It was a pretty bit of shiny so I kept it as a souvenir. Then I hear tearing flesh and she stands up back in human face and spits the wanker's todger onto the ground. Wrinkles up her nose and says Trafe!" I started giggling helplessly at the image and he grinned as he turned off the lamps and settled into the bed. "Then she still wanted to go to the services and I had to convince her that we were neither of us fit for a church of any faith. She made me keep wearing the beanie for a good month though."
He pulled me into his arms, another cause of freaking in the past before I realized he just wanted a hot blood bottle, and pet my cheek gently. "Now, pet, what did you learn?"
The first time he asked, I'd first babbled about a historical nugget buried in the story then tried for a point about vampiric custom. But it wasn't long before I realized what he wanted from me, though the why was still a matter of complete bewilderment. My answer was prompt. "She liked to pretend - to role-play a story more than you needed to just to lure a meal. And she knew some about Jewish culture even though she was raised Catholic. And she had a great sense of dramatic timing." I could see him smile softly in the dim light and he kissed me on the forehead before tucking my face into his shoulder in the not so subtle 'sleep now' signal.
"True points, all, pet." He was gently stroking my back, and I reached some sort of tipping point between fear and the need to end my confusion.
"Sp-spike? Why are you doing this?" His hand stilled and I felt more guilty than afraid when the relaxation left his frame.
"Told you that when I did for the redhead and first brought you here, pet. That bitch of a Slayer killed my dark princess - murdered her when she was weak even though I let all those stupid suicidal wankers go like the bitch wanted. I wanted a clean fight when I first came here, and when the Slayer was getting in my way I still just wanted her dead, nothing fancy. But she took away the person who was everything to me, and now I'm going to take away everything of hers. You're the beginning."
I should have shut up, but the physical comfort that had been my reward for learning the rules of this arrangement somehow made the lack of understanding more urgent. "That... I mean it explains W-willow, and bringing me here, but it would explain it a lot better if I was dead or turned or being tortured. Why..." I waved a leather encased hand, attempting to encompass the stories and food and gentleness. "Why this?"
Looking up, I could see the anger in his face fade into sorrow, and he began petting me again. "Oh pet... You have to understand when I say she was everything to me, I'm not exaggerating. We were over a century together, near six score years of loving her, caring for her, hunting and dancing and exploring the world, always with her. And she's... gone. I only come in ahead of the dawn because that bitch is still alive; only feed because I'll need my full strength to deal with her and her minders. If I can do what I have to and stay in one piece, well, I may hold myself together long enough to make it back to London and sit in a certain alley waiting for the sun, but that's the most I could consider." He tilted my head back so I was looking directly into his eyes and I could see determination shining through the pain.
"But I won't have her forgotten. She was an object of beautiful contradictions, my Drusilla was. Powerful and frail, wanton and childlike, utterly mad but with the ability to see the realities we all hide from. I don't have the strength to go on without her, but I can't let my end erase her from this world, don't you see?" He pulled me back against his shoulder before I could be certain of the tears starting in those captivating eyes. "You're the beginning, Xander, but you're also the end. I'm giving you all my memories of her, so I can do what I have to knowing that she'll not be forgotten."
I felt myself starting to cry but couldn't have told you who it was for to save my life. He held me tighter and nuzzled into my hair, the sound of his softly voiced words soothing me to sleep even as their content assured my nightmares.
"Got a plan pet, and I'm gonna do it right no matter how much I hurt. Can't live without her, but before I go, gonna put it all into you. And you, pet, are gonna live forever."