Where the World Begins and Ends

by Darling Effect

Pairing: Drusilla/Angelus, Drusilla/Giles
Rating: R
Spoilers: Takes place during "Becoming, Part II".
Summary: What Dru sees when she's reading Giles.
A/N: Written as part of the Drusilla Ficathon for KitKat. Thanks to deadsoul820 for the fantastic beta!

The Watcher is badly beaten, bruised, and bloodied. That just makes it easier for Drusilla to do her work. "Poor thing," she says, the tiniest self-satisfied smile playing across her features. She leans in close and forces his head up, makes him look into her eyes. It's not easy, as he's barely conscious. "Let's see what's inside…"

"We have to get Angel away from Acathla. His blood… he mustn't…"

She hadn't expected the Watcher to break so easily. He wants to take her fun away. She won't let him. She touches his face tenderly, slowly — the way a blind person would, as though to memorize every detail, each beloved flaw. She loves the purplish bruises especially well. She holds a red-tipped finger to his parched lips. "Shh, shh."

When she finally kisses him, she's not ready for what she sees. It's been too long since she's remembered this, since she's remembered anything outside of the red room, where the smug, fat new moon sits in judgment of her. She almost reels away from him, but she's held fast to the spot. She has to watch it all unravel. She's meant to.

In life, she is never alone. So many dead voices swirling in her mind, crowding out everything else. No one else understands; they can't see what she sees. Her own parents look at her with a mix of pity and disappointment. Secretly, they think her a ruined girl — possibly touched, certainly too old to find a proper husband, and too strange to fit into convent life. At a loss, they leave her to rot on the vine in a narrow bedroom at the top of the stairs, a suffocating little box under the eaves with a sloping floor and a steady leak. Every time they take her out with them (those times are few and far between, now), they worry that she might say something inappropriate, look too intently at the vicar, or worse. She often stays confined to her room.

Her room is rather chill — she often awakens in the morning to find a thin sheen of ice on the water in her washing-up basin. At least it is mercifully quiet, save for the strangely soothing, rhythmic tapping of tree branches against the mottled dark glass of the window. She dreams of one day having a bed with an ornate carved headboard and a draped canopy of crisp white linen; instead she has a narrow bed with a prickly mattress inhabited by nasty little invisible creatures that bite her at night while she sleeps. In the morning she lifts up her white nightgown to find tiny, red, angry-looking welts. She can't resist pinching and scratching at them. For a few delicious moments her skin burns and sings, and she gives in to it. Then she frantically pushes her gown back down, straightens out the bed sheets and tucks the quilt back, smoothing it as she goes. When she dresses, she wears her scratchiest underthings to do penance.

There is only one book by her bed, a worn hymnal with an embossed red leather cover and a threadbare velvet ribbon nestled neatly between endpapers and title page. She'd taken it from Father's shelf, hoping that he wouldn't miss it. He doesn't like her to have books, so she usually hides them under the mattress. But this one is too fine to hide away.

Late at night, when the entire house is sleeping, she studies it by candlelight. Bathed in the softly flickering golden glow of one meager candle, she kneels. Over and over her fingers trace the light indentation of the fine print, the slight bite where the type has kissed the page, leaving its mark on the thin onionskin. She can feel the words. Whispering them under her breath, she is imbued with a kind of ecstasy.

Rupert has always known about the book, of course. It is his father's domain, destined one day to be his own.

He regards it with a mix of dread and avid curiosity, the impressive lock on the side posing no impediment to his nimble fingers. He spends hushed hours in rapt attention to the words written therein, even if he isn't sure what they mean. "Slayer" and "Vampyr" he understands well enough. He's seen a vampire once, even if it was only a reasonable facsimile at his Uncle Phillip's annual costume ball. The demon names are more difficult, and he knows well enough not to read from the book under his breath, just in case of accidental incantation. Mother's favorite drapes still bear a telltale smudge of charcoal from one such slip of the tongue.

He doesn't see his father often. He is always traveling, or training with a Potential, or in his study, door closed and totally immersed in his musty old tomes. He can count on one hand the number of times his father has taken him on outings, just the two of them. Vividly remembers being bundled up one wintry, damp day, wrapped up in so many layers that he could barely move — and trotting proudly out onto Queen's Gate, waving to the neighbors. Grumpy old Mrs. Derrick doesn't wave back, and he sticks his tongue out at her. "Now, now, none of that, Rupert," his father admonishes, walking faster against the bracing wind. He runs to catch up.

They sit and have tea at the Beaufort, largely in silence. Rupert's father smells faintly of Creed aftershave and stale tobacco as he leans close to unravel Rupert's scratchy woolen scarf and drape it over the chair. Rupert pours the tea for the two of them, feeling very proud of himself. His face falls when he sees the waitress advancing with a tray of cucumber finger sandwiches. He detests cucumber. He really wants some Hob Nobs. His father peers at him sternly over the top of his glasses, and clears his throat. Rupert hesitates for a moment, then gingerly takes one of the neat little triangles. He nibbles at it delicately, trying hard not to register his distaste.

As they're turning onto Brompton Road, a disheveled, stooped man grabs his father's shoulder. "Edward — do you remember me?" No recognition in his father's eyes. The man is near tears. "Please, you must help me. No one else knows what really happened. Please…" He won't let go.

"You made your bed long ago," his father hisses, coldly, then turns and walks away.

"Who was that?" Rupert asks, trying not to look back at the man, who is sitting on the kerb, sobbing.

"No one. He used to be a Watcher. He became involved in dark magicks and the Council had no choice but to… let him go."

Rupert's father kneels as though to adjust Rupert's coat, and, as he buttons the topmost button, looks directly into his son's eyes. "Don't ask about him again." His voice is stern and utterly remote.

Angelus killed her family. She doesn't understand why he'd spared her, the most worthless of them all.

She doesn't want to see what he is, but she knows. You're the snake in the woodshed, you are… A sob catches in her throat. She's not sure if she's spoken aloud or not. She turns her face imploringly towards heaven. God, don't turn away from me.

"God has nothing to do with this. Nothing." His voice, so full of dark intent, chills her to the bone, makes her uncomfortably hot. He grabs her by the throat. "God doesn't exist."

Please don't do this, please, I want to be a good girl, I do…

The world begins to collapse, but it's not hers and she doesn't fight it. She wants to leave it all behind, she always has. She's not prepared for the acuteness of the pain, nor how much she welcomes it.

There is brightness all around her. She gasps — she can see everything so clearly. Then the light is snuffed out.

It's a memory that Giles can't shake off. The profoundly haunted look on the man's face, so desperate and wild, remains etched indelibly in his mind's eye even as other, happier memories from his childhood become dim and hazy. He knows now what the man had done, why he had been excommunicated from the Council.

Giles feels suddenly, painfully sober. He'd burned his thumb trying to light his last cigarette, and the unpleasant sting of the burn had shocked him out of his reverie. He hadn't even noticed that his cigarette had burned entirely down to ash. There's not a single drop of Macallan left (or even the cheap crap, mind), but nothing seems capable of steadying his nerves, not even three Valium and seemingly half of his liquor cabinet. The magicks were bigger than all of them, it was folly to even attempt— A demon wearing the face of his dead friend still taunts him. He can still hear the demon's sickening laughter. Eyghon took him whole. And we killed him. Ethan still thinks it's all a game, fuck the consequences — bury the evidence and be done. Ethan is not one to be kept awake at night by moral quandaries, emotional entanglements, or guilt. Nor Ripper.

But Ripper doesn't exist anymore. That's behind him, forever. Dead and buried.

He shakes his head. Dead. Not buried.

Drusilla awakens to darkness, surrounded on all sides by the suffocating, leaden cloy of damp earth. She claws her way out of the soil to find her dark savior waiting for her, his hand outstretched. There is gift awaiting her in his black hansom as well: he's brought her pale, fair-haired twins, a girl and a boy. Their fear is succulent to her, now — liquid and dizzying.

On the seemingly endless and winding ride back to their luxurious (borrowed) lodgings, the boy cries incessantly. The girl is stoic, resigned, clutching her little dolly and shaking from the cold.

But not for long.

Afterwards, blood-enflamed, Angelus gives Drusilla another gift, taking her roughly on the red velvet divan, leaving his fingerprints on her — at the hollow of her throat, on the inside of her pale thigh—

Darla watches intently, simmering with anger.

Drusilla cries when Angelus is done with her. He laughs at her foolishness, knocks her brutally to the floor and disappears with Darla into the chambers they share.

She treasures the mottled, heart-shaped bruises he leaves behind. With this new body of hers, they fade all too quickly, and it saddens her.

So many nights blur together. It's always a strange dance, between the three of them, always just slightly out-of-step. An endless cycle of intensity and abandonment.

Angelus fucks her often, because it pleases him to do so. He never tires of drawn-out games and slow tortures, marred by occasional flashes of what passes for tenderness. This evening it's a phrase— "Dans l'enfer de mon lit devenir Proserpine," a whispered confessional after he spends (ah, how the profane poetry of doomed syphilitics speaks to him). Still, he never loses himself, not really, always slow, slow, quick, quick slow. Always detached. His artistry is such that pain and pleasure are of a single delirious, fluid continuum.

Perhaps she is the one who is cruel and frenzied, who strips him bare and pitilessly forces him open; who watches him lilt and curse and sigh, giving in at last to exertion, exhaustion, stillness. She holds him there, her hand resting on his throat—

—His hand rests on her throat as he runs a straight razor in tiny, perpendicular lines along her small, expectant breast. She watches in wordless fascination as the blood blooms. Words are inadequate, incomplete, ambivalent to describe this feeling. A thrill sings through her body.

Her midnights are glorious.

Angelus is killing her again — it's his favorite form of seduction. Giles watches in wordless horror as the candles are lit, the rose petals are strewn across the floor, and the lifeless body of the woman he loves is placed gently on top of the bed.

Angelus fans Drusilla's long hair out onto the pillow as he lays her down. He folds her arms across her chest.

No. He does no such thing. He doesn't even close Jenny's eyes.

Drusilla greedily takes it all in. It is bright and sharp and for a moment it threatens to envelop her. The Watcher is as hungry for it as she, tremulous and hot against her — anything to transport him from the torments of the seemingly endless present.

She's still kissing him when she becomes dimly aware that Angelus and Spike have stopped talking. Spike clears his throat. "Dru, love, we are done here."

She breaks off the kiss slowly, not wanting to interrupt the dream. As she lets go of him, the Watcher slumps bonelessly against the chair, completely drained.

She's surprised at how potent the memories are, by the inescapable depth and murk of them. She's rarely so unsettled, but then, this was a wholly unexpected exchange. She's taken on the burden of his secret — his guilt and the slow burn of his resentment — and he hers.

She gets up and gives a slow half-turn toward her boys. She gives them a sad, wry smile. "Sorry. I was in the moment."

- fin -

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