Spike stood in the balcony looking down at Drusilla, entranced. His kitten had abandoned her clothes and was lying in the center of the ballroom floor, looking up through the ruined roof at the stars. Her pale body glowed in the invasive moonlight, and the blind eyes of her nipples seemed to be watching him. The stark contrast of her black triangle transfixed him, and his cock swelled with the longing to be nestled there in her cool nest. He let the drained corpse of his dinner drop, and vaulted over the railing to the floor below.

As he crossed the floor, he could hear the worn floorboards complaining and far below the ocean gnawing at the rotten pilings. Long ago and far away he'd danced in a seaside ballroom like this one by gaslight. He'd been young and awkward, a living man, entranced by a girl who'd sworn she would love him forever and ever. He'd died before he could find out what a bitter joke that was. Her face had faded from his memory long ago; probably before the flesh itself had rotted into the earth. Ashes to ashes...

Spike knelt down beside Drusilla, he teased a pale nipple with a black-nailed finger.

"Hello, baby. What're you doing?"

"The stars, they're singing to me," Drusilla sighed. "Can you hear them?"

"No pet, sorry," he admitted.

She sighed. "Poor Spike. It's so beautiful," she said wistfully. "Like breaking glass."

"Will you dance with me?" Spike asked. Drusilla smiled and offered him her hand.

They waltzed to the music in her head. Spinning, round and round, in and out of the rays of silver shining through he broken roof. His eyes never left hers, happily drowning in their glittering indigo depths. Spike kissed her, catching her laughter in his mouth, hearing it echo in his throat; tasting the sweet tang of fresh blood. Light and dark, faster and faster until moonlight and shadow began to strobe and blur. As they circled the floor, locked together, suspended between the night and the sea Spike thought he could almost hear the music. Dru was as light as a feather in his arms. She put her lips close to Spikes ear and murmured something.

"What did you say, baby?" Spike asked, running his hand through her silky black hair.

"Goodbye Spike," she whispered.

"What?" A cloud seemed to pass over the moon and the ballroom was suddenly cast into darkness. He faltered, suddenly unsure of his footing and felt Drusilla slip from his arms.

"Dru!" he shouted. He reached for her white shape in the impossible blinding darkness. She shrunk away from him, fading like frost under the morning sun, shaking her head sadly.

"Poor Spike," she said. "You're lost." He watched in disbelief as she faded away, like the Cheshire Cat, her sad eyes the last thing to go.

Spike was alone, suspended in complete darkness. He welcomed oblivion as it closed in around him, null and soothing; wiping away even the memory of loss. But almost as soon as he became resigned, the darkness began to fade as he slowly began to wake.

As consciousness inexorably returned, so did hunger and pain, familiar and inescapable. Keeping his eyes firmly shut, feigning unconsciousness, he listened. No breath, no heartbeat, disturbed the silence. He was alone.

He opened his eyes and had to turn his head away from the searing light. She'd left the lamp on, it was so close he could feel the heat. He could feel the sun somewhere overhead, white hot, burning with the promise of final death, and oblivion. If he stared into the lamp long enough it would blind him, but unlike the sun it would not kill him. There was no mercy here. Cautiously moved, testing his restraints. The chains held, and he gave up.

He could tell it was day, but what day or month was a mystery. He had long since given up on trying to keep track of time. There was no time here; he'd been here forever. Drowning in an endless ocean of pain. Pain was the only constant, only the degree varied. Sometimes she took him all the way down to the deep blue depths of evisceration, vivisection, burning. Other times she kept him in the middle waters of impalement, knives, and whips. And when she was done, released him to drift into the shallow waters of the dull aches of healing, and anticipation of the next time. It made it worse to know that a human being had been able to do this to him, to make him her plaything, her toy.

This time she'd left him on his back, his arms chained over his head. There was an irritating itching he knew meant that the wounds in his stomach had nearly healed, his undead flesh mercilessly, mindlessly, healing itself. His arms were numb, almost not part of him. Slowly it occurred to him that, for the first time in many cycles, he was whole. He wondered if she was finally tired of him, ready to end it; or far more likely, had something special she wanted to try on an intact body. He almost didn't care, except for Drusilla.

Drusilla; His black princess, his sweetness, his heart. They had been so happy after he'd returned to Rio. He'd killed the demon he found her with and made good on his oath to torture her until she loved him again. It worked like a charm. She was his ripe black plum again, his adoring lover, his heart restored. They'd gone on a second honeymoon, killing and fucking their way North, wreaking beautiful destruction from Brazil all the way up through the isthmus. They'd been so happy. Then, one night in Panama, he’d woken to find her gone. No word, no note, just gone. She'd even forgotten the latest incarnation of her Miss Edith. He'd smashed every one of her dolls and set fire to the bed before going after her.

He'd tracked Dru back to Sunnydale in a black rage. He'd assumed that she had returned to the Hellmouth in search of Angelus; there was nothing else it could be. Angelus, the bastard, was always there between them. She wouldn’t give the idea up of finding her ‘Daddy’ no matter how many times he told her that he was gone; sucked into hell. Spike had carefully never told her about Angel's having returned.

He’d been puzzled when the trail led to a comfortable house in an expensive neighborhood near the university. Not the usual kind of place he'd expect her to lair in. Nevertheless, he could sense Dru inside as he’d rung the doorbell, torn between anger and anticipation. Unsure what he would say to her, or do to her.

Then the door had opened....


"Well," Professor Orexis said, smiling at Kenny her teaching assistant. "I think that ought to do it. Go home. Enjoy your weekend."

"You sure you don't want me to collate these handouts for you?" Kenny offered, watching her as she stretched and went to the window. Thinking, not for the first time, that she was pretty good looking for her age, which really couldn't be all that old. Not even as old as his mom. Silhouetted in the window her honey-blond hair was crowned in gold. She turned and smiled.

"No. Now it's a wonderful day. Shoo! Get out of here, I'll see you Tuesday."

"You're the boss." Kenny gathered up his things and showed himself out. He turned at the end of the walk to wave at the petite figure standing in the window. She waved back, then made shooing gestures. Kenny grinned, and left.

As soon as he was out of sight the professor drew the curtains. She did a quick circuit of the house to make sure the doors were locked. She armed the security system and went downstairs.

He lay there silent and still as the corpse he almost was. So pale, the boyish face a little sunken, thinner now than when he'd come to her. She liked watching him feed, but keeping him hungry kept the demon closer to the surface, made it easier for him to lose control and for her to elicit the desired response. She admired the tableaux he made, arched and taut on the table. Really, the chains were unnecessary, since with the bindings she'd already woven into his flesh, she could control him with a few words, a gesture; but she liked the look of him there: narrow and taut, her lithe white serpent. She was aware that he was awake, though he continued feigning unconsciousness as she descended the stairs. He was a wonderfully obstinate creature. Even after all these months, he still continued to struggle.

"Good afternoon William," she said. Spike opened his eyes and looked at her. "It's rude not to acknowledge a visitor," she admonished.

"Sorry," he said. "I'm not feeling my best." He had a lovely voice, she thought, and smiled, remembering the wonderful timbre of his screams, his hisses, his roars of pain echoing in the soundproofed room through the long summer days.

She placed her hands on his motionless chest, circled the pale pink nipples with her fingers and pinched them lightly. She felt him shiver as she moved lower down, stroking his belly, the dried blood flaking from the smooth skin. The wounds she'd opened in him were closed; the scars only slightly inflamed. They would fade to silver by tomorrow, and be erased entirely in a few days, a week at most, leaving him a blank slate, ready for her further attentions.

She loved his skin. It was so perfectly white, poreless and smooth; blue veins visible through its translucence. It parted like silk under her blades to reveal the wonders of pale meat and paler bone. She adored peeled the beautiful stuff from his back in strips, and sewing it back together with silver thread, watching it heal, the foreign metal oozing from the regenerating flesh in tiny beads till perfection was restored. She'd traced patterns on his body with a brush dipped in holy water, watching the smoke curl and rise in beautiful arabesques. Had even tattooed her name in the small of his back with black ink and silver pins, marking him as her's.

She reached between his legs to cradle his balls in her hand and smiled wistfully, longing to have him open again, to plunge her hands into the cool wetness inside, to touch his silent heart and feel the demon inside cringing under her hand.

Ah well, but it can't always be cakes and ale, she reminded herself. Summer was over, and it was time to let these minor diversions go and focus on her work. She gave him a last gentle squeeze, and stepped back from the table, retreating from temptation.

Spike looked into the smiling face of his tormentor, and for a moment he was thrown back again into the memory of the first time he'd seen it...


"Yes?" she said looking quizzically up at him from the open door. From the interior of the house came the smells of wood smoke, lemon oil, and money. The sense of Drusilla, crystal clear up to the moment she'd opened the door seemed to have suddenly dissipated. He looked down at her, slightly puzzled, seeing a human, a woman, not in her first youth. Her looks made no impression on him either way. He was slightly peckish, and he was vaguely curious about how she would taste.

"Erm, I’m looking for a friend," he said. Trying his best to look young and harmless, trusting that the stains from his last meal didn't show against the black shirt, black pants. Hoping that she was as naive as she looked.

"Oh, yes. You must be Drusilla's friend" she smiled. "Come in," she invited him. He felt a surge of excitement at her words as she smiled, and stepped aside to let him in. He stood in the hallway behind her, trying to peering into the house, sensing Dru close by, expecting to see her at any moment. He was only vaguely aware of her shutting the door, locking it.

"So, is it Spike, or William?" she'd asked. "I think I like William better." He'd turned and seen the gun, huge and clumsy in her hands, aimed at him. She smiled and shot him.

He didn't know much about guns, but the caliber was large enough that the first shot knocked him into the wall. The next took out his knee, and he fell to the floor. All he could think about was how much it fucking hurt. Then he felt the muzzle against the back of his head and then white light erased the world.


He'd awakened here, in her 'playroom'. He'd thought he'd known something about pain: its uses and delights, but in the eternity he'd spent here Orexis had shown him the full length and breadth of his naiveté. His dreams had preserved his sanity. His dreams and the knowledge that his Drusilla still walked the earth. He would know if she'd been destroyed, they were almost the same blood after all their years together. Occasionally he thought he could feel her nearby; had heard her voice whispering like dead leaves in his ear, trying to tell him something. He knew she must be still nearby, in Sunnydale, looking for him as he'd come looking for her. He hoped she never found this house, never came here.

"William dear, are you listening?" He flinched at the sweet voice of his tormenter.

"Yeah," he snarled, still clinging to the pretense of defiance. Knowing it was thin as tissue paper. Knowing that she knew it too, but enjoyed the game. Enjoyed watching him struggle. It was a good game, and one he'd enjoyed it when he was the one with power. It was poetic fucking justice wasn’t it?

"I have bad news, dear. The term begins on Tuesday, so I'm afraid our little tryst will have to end," she said and produced a tiny key from a pocket. She watched for his reaction, and saw the sudden dilation of pupil, the uncontrollable reflex of hope.

He trembled as she unlocked the manacles, and his arms dropped to his sides. He sat up and wrapped his arms around himself, looking at her. Waiting for her to do whatever it was she really intended. She left him and went to a small closet, pulled out a bundle of clothes and tossed them at him. He recognized them as his own, dusty and stiff with the stains of his last meal.

"Get dressed, then come upstairs. I'll explain what I need you to do." She turned her back on him and left without a backward glance.

He hesitated for less than a moment. He could still feel the sun's menace; but the sun was a known threat, and a quick way to go, if it came to that. He dressed, climbed the stairs and followed her faint human perfume to the front of the house. He hesitated in the hallway, looking into the parlor. She'd considerately drawn the drapes so that only a few threads of yellow light intruded.

She had her back to him, as she sat reading something at the delicately carved secretary. Oblivious to his presence. He was suddenly intensely aware of her human smell; the smell of her blood thick in the air. Reminded of the endless hours he'd spent surrounded by the smell of her, feeling her hands on him, in him, dealing out agony. He felt his face change, the demon suddenly focused on her pale neck.

The phone on her desk rang. She answered it.

"Hello? Oh, Lalo, dear, how are you?" She laughed and continued chatting as Spike eased silently into the room.

He knew it was a bad idea, even as he rushed at her. Knew it was too easy, an obvious set-up. But these caveats were easily overwhelmed by his demon's screaming for blood and revenge and his own idiot hope that it might not be, that he could begin to blot out his humiliation with her violent death.

She squeaked as Spike grabbed her by her long, shining hair, and jerked her backwards and up, out of the chair. He grabbed her throat, her pulse pounding desperately under his hand as he pulled her around to face him, reveled in the sharp jolt of pleasure when he saw nothing but surprise and terror in her eyes. The demon growled, brutally exposed her throat and sank his fangs into her. Sweet, warm, human blood flooded into his mouth, and he swallowed…

Fire blossomed in his belly, bright agony roared through his veins, seared his nerves, and burned into his bones. Screaming, he threw Orexis away from him and fell to the brightly patterned rug writhing in agony, and despair. Feeling her inside him, worming into his flesh and bone, infecting every cell with her essence. Owning him.

And the worst thing was the knowledge that she'd tricked him into completing the spell, that he had damned himself. He could hear her laughing as he fell again into darkness.

When he woke the sun was gone, a cool night breeze was disturbing the draperies. He shuddered, lying face down and waited in the dim quiet. Where was she? Had she left the room? She might have gone out, left him here, knowing that no matter where he went, she could reel him in by the bindings she'd placed in him. She owned him now; so where was she? There was no human scent in the room, only an odd smell like vinegar and chalk.

His shoulder blades clenched as he heard something moving behind him. A scuttling sound, and what the hell was that smell? It was oddly familiar. He slowly raised himself onto his elbows, flinched as a shadow fell across him, as something passed in front of the light from the hallway. It was not a human shape. Painfully, he pulled himself up and turned to face it.

"Spike," it whispered.

He screamed.


END prologue


Next: Part 1: The Circus Comes to Sunnydale

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