by Jessica Walker

Pairing: Dru/Spike
Rating: R. Vague sex, graphic yuckiness, angst.
Spoiler: Ummm… it's got some "Fool for Love" stuff.
Summary: Set between "Lover's Walk" and "Harsh Light of Day." Dru cheats, Spike leaves, and Spike is allowed to return… for a price.
Disclaimer: The plot is mine and nothing else, blah blah blah, Joss is God and the "Grrr, Arrrgghh" monster could kick my ass. Don't sue, I'm broke.
Dedication: Donna for assuring me that it isn't crap, Av for the encouragement and ideas. This is my second Anglo-Saxon-titled fic in a row, Av; consider it revenge for your Gaelic madness.

I tell myself, as it begins once again, that steel manacles aren't really necessary. That I'm a man, goddamnit, and I can take my punishment like a man. Part of me even wants it. I honestly never thought of myself as someone who got off on pain. I wouldn't have admitted such a thing to myself, anyhow. But I gave up my standards and my pride about three infidelities and six cuts ago.

But it's always too much in the end, and cloth sheds and leather snaps, so steel it is. She's thorough, my Princess is. Wants to make sure everything goes perfectly.

It's my fault, of course. I got myself into this mess. Silly Spike, his head full of ideas and mutinies. Silly Spike, actually thinking he's strong enough to stand on his own. I have left again, and I am being allowed to come back. But first I must prove myself.

Here, love is measured out one glistening-crimson drop at a time.

The first bruises and fingernail-scrapes are nearly healed, and when she straddles me, knees on either side of my waist, the red lace of her dress scrapes against my bare flesh and the curls of her hair gently sweep over my chest. "Are you ready?" she whispers.

I've been here for three days. I'm way past ready.

"Then let's begin."

Nothing is ever random with Dru; it's all religion and rote, handed down from the ancient Egyptians and the Druids and demon races older than time. Even the games she makes up have existed for centuries in the caverns of her mind. She's thought this one out, with an unusual amount of concentration. The knife is silver-bladed and cruelly sharp, small enough for her tiny hands, the handle a milky mother-of-pearl shot through with threads of carnelian. She keeps it in a blue velvet pouch, embroidered with silver thread. It was a gift from Angelus, five years before my mortal birth.

She slowly draws the knife from its drawstring bag, humming a tuneless little phrase under her breath.

"I missed you, you know." She gives me a dark smile. "Oh, you don't believe me, I can read it between your eyes, but I truly did. My little Spike. My bravest knight. But you can't come and go as you please, Spike. There are rules."

Don't I know it.

Rule #1: Princess calls the shots.

"Last time you told me to go. Threw me out and told me never to come back. Remember?"

She affixes me with a stare. "That was last time. Pay attention." She holds the knife before her eyes, blinking at the brightness. "Gifu," she says breathily. She presses the point of the blade against her fingertip and a drop of blood wells to the surface. She slides her finger gently between my parched lips and my tongue laps hungrily at the wound.

"Do you know what that means, Spike?"

I say nothing, not wishing to anger her further.

"That's what the Anglo-Saxons called it. Gebo to the Germans. The seventh letter of the runic alphabet… have I ever told you about the runes, love?"

She drew Hagall the night before he returned. The righteous hailstorm that crushes everything in its path.

I give her a weak smile. "Tell me now, pet." When she talks she gets distracted. Doesn't cut as deep.

"The rune of Love." She runs the blade over my stomach in shallow, painless curlicues that heal quickly. "And sacrifice. The Vikings didn't sacrifice that many people, you know… not like the Druids. Or the Mayans!" She giggles insanely. "The Mayans would choose a princess… hit her over the head and bury her in a mountaintop. But the Vikings… No, between the wars and the weather there weren't enough lives to spare, and the gods stayed angry no matter what. But some chose it. Sacrifice. They would follow their lovers to death… lie down on top of the funeral pyre and join their beloved in the flames." She drags her fingernail slowly down my cheek, tearing the flesh. "Would you do the same for me, my love?"

I swallow thickly. "You know I would."

She smiles slowly. "Yes, I know you would. My brave knight. You'd burn for your Princess."

Press the knife tip in, deeper, deeper, ever so carefully.

"But will you bleed for me?"

I close my eyes wearily and tears of exhaustion slip from beneath my lashes. "I've been bleeding for you for a century, Dru," I say tiredly. "Let's get on with it."

It won't hurt that much. It won't hurt that much.

It doesn't hurt to leave. I'll tell you different when it's happening, when my fists are clenched in rage and my throat choked with furious tears, but the leaving's easy. Catching her in bed with another, seeing that passion and that drive exerted on something that isn't me, yeah, that hurts, and that brings the jealous rage that makes the leaving simple, brings the anger that makes obsessive affection fall away with ease. And I get in my car and I drive and I try to convince myself that this is the worst it's gonna hurt, that from here on out it can only get better. I tell myself this because I'm a fucking idiot.

Rule #2: You can't survive without her, mate. Don't even try.

The returning used to hurt. The humiliation. Time was I couldn't imagine begging. Now I can't imagine it being any other way. And this- the cutting- that hurts least of all. Because I know from the instant she chains me down that it's only a matter of time before she takes me back.

That, and because I know I deserve no better.

But that's over. The true hurting is past now; the true hurting is the vortex in between the Leavetaking and the Return, the lonely drunken nights in some hotel room a day's drive from our home. The pain comes with the Going Without. And I can't do it anymore, I don't care what the price is, I'll do anything, because I'm nothing if I'm not hers.

So yes, Dru, I'll bleed for you, I'll bleed and I'll burn and I'll bruise oh-so-easily and I'll beg on tattered and bloody knees and I'll take the whip in trembling hands and do my very best Angelus impression if that's what you want, and I'll never ask for a goddamned thing in return. You don't have to love me. You don't even have to pretend. Just let me follow you like the lovesick, demented, pathetic puppy that I am.

But please, for God's sake, can't we go ten minutes running without throwing my inadequacies back in my face?

"He'd be very cross if he found out, you know. Very disappointed in you."

I've never expected otherwise.

Rule #3: You're not Him, you never will be, and the sooner you accept that, the happier we'll all be.

"You were supposed to take care of me, you know. That's why he let me make you. My brave knight. You can't go running off just because you're jealous, love. Angelus can't be expected to do everything."

I close my eyes briefly as pictures a century old flash against my vision. Screaming and weeping and shattered porcelain. Bloodcurdling yells and sharp fingernails that dug furrows in her own skin.

//She's seeing again//

//Dru, shut the hell up//

//Angelus, darling, we'll be late//

//Keep an eye on her, Will. I've plans for the evening.//

Angelus can't be expected to do everything. Spike takes care of the girl and Spike gets himself stuck in a wheelchair trying to protect her and then Angelus turns back up again with impeccable timing and to the victor go the spoils. And I try to tell myself that it's not her fault. That she can't help loving him any more than I can help loving her. And she'd walk through the fire for us both, I'm sure of it. But if it ever came down to him or me— well, I know all too well who her true champion is.

She traces her fingernail down my torso, drawing an invisible line down the center of my chest. Then she takes out the knife and begins to cut in earnest, whispering Our Fathers in a singsong voice as she slices into my skin.

M.Y. A.N.G.E.L.

"Does it hurt?"

"The cuts, or what they say?"



Other side of the imaginary line.

M.Y. S.P.I.K.E.

I close my eyes and tears of relief flow down my cheeks. Last time she wouldn't carve my name. Just his, over and over and over again. And you have to learn to appreciate what you've got, you know? The sight of her frail hands etching my name into my flesh. The promise spoken there, that I might not ever truly own her, but I'll make out okay if I'm willing to share. And I'd better take what I can get, 'cause from here on out she gets creative.

She starts with a series of shallow, biting cuts that race along my arms and ribcage. I can feel the trickle of cold blood running down my flesh and pooling in the mattress underneath me. I wonder how long I'll last; I haven't eaten much in the three days I've been chained to this bedpost. Dru never remembers to take good care of her pets. Thin slices lead to jagged zigzags and I wince in pain. I will not cry this time. I will not break. I will not beg.

"Run and catch," she mutters darkly, driving the blade into my thigh in a series of shallow stabs. I clench my fists and bite back whimpers. "The lamb is caught… in the blackberry patch… run and catch… the lamb is caught… the lamb is caught…" She lifts her head suddenly and glares at me, fury in her eyes. "It isn't fair!"

With these words, she drives the blade into my breastbone and cuts a long, deep, jagged laceration between the two names carved into my chest. I throw my head back and howl in pain, bucking involuntarily against my restraints. She doesn't notice; she hurls the knife against the opposite wall, spattering my blood against the wallpaper in bizarre Rorschach patterns. She begins to rake at my bruised face and ragged chest with unforgiving, trembling hands. "It's not fair. Everything was supposed to go right. We were supposed to be a family again! We were supposed to be happy! But you and Daddy, that wasn't enough for you, you had to have everything, and why couldn't you just share? Good boys share!" She buries her head in bloodstained hands and begins to weep uncontrollably.

"Sorry," I whisper, but I've said that so many times in the last year that I can't even remember what it means anymore. "I'm sorry, Dru."

She lifts her head, scrubs away the tears with the back of one hand, and stands to collect the knife from its resting place on the carpet. She stands at the foot of the bed and presses the flat of the blade to her palm, dark eyes observing me.

"You know why I have to punish you? You're a very bad boy, Spike. You haven't been faithful to your Princess."

I stifle a laugh. Two weeks ago I entered this very room and found her in this bed, riding a slime demon at breakneck speed. Just one of many. I was a virgin when she turned me, for fuck's sake. There's never been anyone else. Ever. And somehow, in the dark, dank, scattered recesses of her mind, I'm the unfaithful one.

"It's true," she says defensively. "I can see her, dancing behind your eyes. What is she doing there? I could understand it with him, his stupid soul and her blonde hair and simpering glances— he didn't know any better, Spike. All the demon remembered was how much the flesh had ached for her and he didn't know any better. But you! She's been buzzing between your ears since St. Vigeous. What is it about her?"

The little bitch didn't die on schedule.

Dru wouldn't understand. She only kills for hunger or boredom, or occasionally, as with the last Slayer, out of obedience. But she's too disconnected to care who lives or who dies. She doesn't understand the adrenaline rush you get from killing a vampire's greatest enemy.

((oh, spike… look at the wonderful mess you've made))

She doesn't understand the feeling of pride.

((i guess this makes you one of us))

"Do you think he meant it?" I asked her later that night, as she combed the tangles out of my hair and mopped my injured brow.

"I'm sure he did." She dropped a kiss on the wound over my eye. "I'm so proud of you. My little Spike."

((kill her for me?))

And after I killed the second one, I came home with a new duster and a swagger in my step, and she clapped her hands together for joy. "Oh, Spike! I've never heard of anyone killing two in a century. Not ever. Wouldn't Daddy have been proud?"

I suppose he would have.

When we arrived in Sunnydale, I only had one plan in mind: get Dru well. Put a stop to the moaning and the weight loss, the fainting spells and the ice-cold skin, once and for all. Get my baby strong again. Dru had a plan in mind, too, but it wasn't the same one.

((kill her for princess?))

Her Spike. Her hero. Her knight in torn and bloodied armor. She had it all figured out: kill the Slayer and take over the Hellmouth, a Hellmouth run by the Master's men. Closer to the bloodline of Aurelius than Dru or I, they shouldn't have submitted to us as quickly as they did… but I had a reputation, no reason not to take it to the next level, third time's the charm and I bloody well promised.

((it's done, baby))

((i'll chop her into messes))

I promised, and I failed her.

((spike, my boy, you really don't get it))

I failed them both.

((you tried to kill her, but you couldn't))

And Dru doesn't understand, she'll never understand, and she understands so little that she's carving the Slayer's name into me now, scattering it over my torso with sharp, biting little cuts, gleefully laughing and weeping in frustrated rage because she just doesn't get it. I kill Slayers, goddamnit. It's what I'm good at. It's what I do. It's my special talent, it's my skill, it's my fucking theme, and it's more than he ever did. The stench of Slayer blood on my clothing makes her eyes sparkle and her fingers dance and it made him look at me with the only thing resembling approval that I ever got from him in a hundred and twenty years, it's the only thing that makes me worthy to call myself her lover and his grandchilde, and if I can't kill Buffy Summers then I am nothing. So yes, Dru, I am obsessed, yes, she's dancing behind my eyelids and swimming in my brain, whatever the hell you want to call it, and it has fuck all to do with whatever half-assed attraction drew him to her side and into her pants. What this has to do with, princess, is your two favorite topics: love and death. Because I have to kill her, I have to, and until I do I will never truly deserve you, and the tides of change will just keep pushing me away from you and pulling me back until you've finally cut me to pieces.

((look at you. you're a wreck))

I focus on the play of silver and lamplight, trying to catch my reflection in the glimmer of blood against blade. Of course, I don't have a reflection, and I should know that, but there are so many rules and I can't quite remember all of them at the moment. The mattress beneath me is soaked in sticky redness and the world is swimming dangerously. I'm rapidly losing consciousness.


I run the tip of my tongue over my dry lips and drag my eyelids open. "Yes, kitten?"

"You know I love you."

"I know, Dru," I whisper hoarsely.

"Are you going to be a good boy for Mummy now?"

"Of course."

She draws a sharp fingernail across her wrist and presses it to my lips, a direct recreation of the gesture that ended my human existence and commenced my immortal one, and I drink as thirstily as I did then. It is a reminder, if one were needed, that no sired vampire is an independent creature. I don't make my own choices any more than she does, any more than Angelus did, or Darla, or the Master, or whoever made him, back through time immemorial. There is only the Belonging. I'll never be anyone but hers and she'll never be anyone but his.

But I'll gladly take whatever she's willing to give.

Her dress falls softly to the floor; she is silent and methodical as she crouches between my legs and takes me into her cool mouth, skillful and tender and smiling at my whimpers of arousal, but the knife never falls from her tightly clenched fingers, never slips from her grasp as her lips release me and she straddles my hips again, a sensation so familiar here in the bloodloss-addled haze inside my head that time and space fall away into useless abstractions. And why not? A bed is a bed and Dru doesn't look any different now that the first time we made love, a hundred and eighteen years past.

((I awoke with a start at sunset on a bed covered with silk and lace with several porcelain dolls as company. My suddenly sharper hearing caught the sounds of argument outside the door.

"What in the bloody blue blazes were ye thinkin', girl?"

The stomp of a foot, rebellious, pouty tones. "He's mine. I found him, I made him, and I'm going to keep him."))

She sheathes me with her lithe body and begins to rock back and forth, eliciting soft moans from my throat. "My little Spike."

"Yes," I whisper. "Yes, yours."

(("It's a big responsibility," the man's voice said outside the doorway. "Siring a Childe. Teaching him to hunt, to kill. Are you ready for that, Drusilla?"

Drusilla. The dark-haired changeling who had torn out my throat in an alleyway the night before. Drusilla. The girl with lips like rose petals and eyes like black pools. Drusilla.

"Yes," she said with quiet determination. "He is gracious and beautiful and I shall keep him forever."))

"You'll leave again, you know?" she whispers as her hips increase their speed and I give a choked moan. Her eyes have taken on that distant gloss they always get when she's seeing. "You'll leave, and you'll come back, and you'll go again. Perhaps even for awhile. Perhaps even for what the humans would think of as forever. But it will come full circle again, love, and there's nothing any of us can do to stop it. You'll always come back. And I"ll always let you."

(("Fine," the man's voice said tiredly. "What's his name?"

A pause, like a child confronted with a question to which she doesn't know the answer. "I didn't think to ask."

"Well, then, you'd better go in and find out."))

"Dru," I whimper. I'm about to come. I open my eyes to affix them on her face and that's when it enters my line of vision again, the silver glint of blade.

Rule #4: Never assume you've won. You'll never win. But if you're lucky Princess will let you play the game.

(("So pretty," she whispered as she pushed open the doorway. "What's your name, pet?"

"W—William," I stuttered. She leaned forward with a dark smile and put her hand on my thigh, dangerously close to my groin. I was twenty-six, and a virgin, and a newly made vampire, and very afraid. And I backed away in confusion and fear.

"Don't worry," she said silkily. "I won't hurt you."))

She has the knife ready for the moment I climax. I know it, and I dread it, but I can't stave it off for much longer. At least she gives me my pleasure and pain in equal measures; at least I'm allowed to taste both the bitter and the sweet. Because, truth be told, it could be a lot worse. And I still wouldn't leave.

She can tell by the sound of my ragged breath that I'm about to come, and she positions the knife over my heart. Oh, God, I don't want this. It's gonna hurt so bad. It's gonna take forever to heal.

But it's too late.

I'm screaming in ecstasy, and I'm screaming in agony, and I'm still coming when she passes the knife between flesh and bone and presses it into my heart. I let out one final, exhausted breath as the climax washes over me, and Dru wraps her fingers firmly around the knife's handle.

"Dru, please," I beg. "Don't. Not yet. Please don't."

"I'm sorry," she whispers, her eyes filling with tears. She's truly sorry; now that I've done my penance, she has no desire to hurt me more. "But it has to come out, love. You can't carry it around inside of you."

"I know." But the exit hurts worse than the entry.

"Ssh," she murmurs, covering my hand with her own. "Ssh, love." I bite down on my lip and let her pull out the blade.

When it is over and the pain begins to subside, she puts her mouth tenderly over the wound in my chest and runs her fingers through my hair. She unlocks the manacles and lets me hold her again, and turns out the light. She falls asleep at my side, and I try my best to heal.

- fin -

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