Sometimes one can know instantly about another person.
Dru was the best example of that. Always the best and brightest example, was Drusilla – Daddy’s evil little girl. Sweet and innocent she was, when Angelus first saw her, desperate to be pure and good enough for God. What she got was the devil. But she still needed a god: a creature to worship, to yearn to be loved by, to try to deserve and to despair over. Only now it was a god of blackness and the night. So she who was innocent and pure had to be the most childlike, purest evil that ever walked the earth. Simple Drusilla.
At other times though there is no spark of revelation, just a gradual erosion of the original impression. Like the desert sands beating against a pillar of rock, one grain at a time, so that over the millennia the form changes, wears away until some new shape appears recognisable; but there is no single instant at which you can say the change occurred. William was like that. Carved by the sands of time in front of him until eventually he noticed what was there. Not suddenly dropped at his feet like a gift from the gods.
Mistakes do happen.
Bizarrely though, it had started with something being dropped at Angelus’s feet.
It was dragged in by Dru, already half dead from the bite wound, shivering and mewling faintly like a sickly kitten.
‘What’s this?’ Angelus demanded.
‘A present. I thought you would like him.’
‘This?’ He sneered. ‘And what wondrous sewer did you fish this out of? Tied up in a sack, no doubt, and left to drown with the rest of the litter.’
‘Oooh.’ Dru cringed and shrunk away unhappily.
Angelus only laughed. ‘Why is he all wet then?’
‘Because he was naughty.’
‘Yes. He tried to run away, so I dropped him in the horse trough to wash the naughtiness out of him.’
‘Then he is half drowned!’ Angelus caught the young man’s chin and jerked it viciously so he could look into his features. Fair, thin, sharp cheek-boned, eyes screwed tight shut. ‘What do you expect me to do with him? I’m not eating something that tastes of horse slobber.’
‘Can I have him? To play with? Please, Daddy, please!’
He glanced at her, toying with whether to assent or deny, and relishing the power of the decision as he always did. Though lately he had begun to notice just how capable of being in charge Drusilla was, even when she appeared not to be. It was a discovery the possibilities of which he was still exploring.
The youth gave a soft moan and shifted under his hold, so he quickly back-handed him across one of those fine cheek bones, and raised an eyebrow when it elicited very little response. Perhaps this one would be worth some sport after all.
‘All right, my girl. See if you can amuse me.’
‘Oh goody!’ She clapped her hands and then took the proffered youth. ‘I know you’re going to like this!’ She dragged him by his light-brown hair halfway across the room, his boots squeaking and scuffing pathetically against the wooden floorboards, until they bumped over the hearthrug, rucking it up in a tangle; then Dru muttered to herself, ‘No, silly!’ and dragged him back again. ‘Can I borrow the chains please? And the other toys?’
‘Of course. It wouldn’t be fun without those. You may choose three. And the small set of chains.’
‘Three, Drusilla.’ He put a stern note of command into his voice and she knew perfectly well not to try and plead further.
The youth was soon manacled and hanging from the iron ceiling hook which had been meant to take a chandelier big enough to light the spacious room, but which the vampires had adapted for their own purposes. Angelus had pointed out that they might as well, since gas-lighting had conveniently been installed by the late owners.
Dru’s trinket still had his eyes tight shut and Angelus was starting to get curious about them. ‘See if you can get him to open his eyes,’ he suggested.
Dru swiftly dragged the heavy iron-bound toy-box out from where it was kept against the wall and, after Angelus had handed her his key, she started to rummage through it; whispering to herself as she made the all important decisions. Angelus arranged himself gracefully in a comfortable, high-backed armchair, and prepared to watch. For a while the room was tranquil. There was no sound but the domestic crackle of the fire and the faint metallic clinking of chains and torture implements.
Then there was a crash akin to that when a mighty forest oak thunders to earth and a rush of wind as the door behind Angelus’s chair was flung back.
‘What do you think you are playing at, Drusilla? That is my kill! You leave him alone!’
‘Shan’t. Daddy says I may have him.’
‘He damn well is.’
‘You can’t ever catch anything.’
‘I bloody well can!’
‘Stop whining, William.’
There was a shocked silence. Then Will spoke again, cautiously, ‘Angelus? I didn’t know you were here.’
Dru simpered, smugly.
‘Clearly not,’ Angelus said, ‘or you would not have come in like a bull elephant.’
‘You will be. Come here.’
Will quickly walked round and stood facing the chair, hands behind his back in that superficially respectful but challenging way he had, just out of arms’ reach. Angelus considered him very briefly. It should have been a decision he relished. What to punish and what to ignore, when to rein in and when to let the boy have his head; with whichever he chose there being no question of who was in control. As so often though he found himself wondering why he should bother with this brat at all.
‘She has a point, boy. When was the last time you were anything but a nuisance?’ There was no answer. Angelus sighed, resigning himself to having to deal with the squabble. ‘Where did you find him?’
Will twitched his head in the direction of the victim, but didn’t take his eyes off Angelus. He was bemused by the question though. ‘In the churchyard.’
‘What were you doing in the churchyard?’
‘More to the point, what was he doing there!’ Will retorted cheerfully. ‘Sire,’ he rapidly added when Angelus glared at him.
Angelus flicked a puzzled glance and a frown at the dangling youth, but then he returned his attention to his childe. ‘Churchyards,’ he said, standing up wearily, ‘Are places where Slayers go. Therefore they are not places, William, where you should go.’
‘Really?’ Will took a hasty step back, maintaining the distance between himself and the taller, more heavily built master vampire. ‘Why would a Slayer be anywhere near here?’
‘Maybe, William, because there is a clan of vampires in these parts?’
‘Well, yeh; but you’re not afraid of a Slayer, are you?’
Angelus paused. The question had been put cheekily, insolently taunting, but there was also a note that rang genuine, something akin to anxiety underlying it: as if Will really cared about the answer.
He couldn’t ignore the surface tone though. Angelus reached forward too fast to see and caught his impertinent childe by the ear, giving it a sharp twist. ‘What?’
Will sank down on one knee, because it was that or have his ear torn off, which he knew Angelus was quite capable of doing. It was a fact of Will’s life that he only existed at all at Angelus’s whim, as a plaything for his sire and a companion for Dru. The toy William, kept around for when wanted and ignored when not. Which was why he worked so very hard at being noticed most of the time. Only on occasions Angelus proved to him that he could be too successful. Will winced but kept quiet.
‘Daddy, can I play now?’ Dru had been watching their exchanges with open mouthed wonder, but she rushed up to Angelus then and put her hands on his arm.
‘Dru, can’t you see I’m talking to the boy?’
‘Yes. But you said I could play. I want to play with him.’ She gestured to the victim.
‘He’s mine,’ Will maintained stoutly from his place near the floor, and then gave a little gasp as Angelus twisted his ear somewhat harder. ‘Angelus, he is. I found him, I bit him and then she took him away.’
‘I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t. I found him all on my own. He’s mine, he is, Daddy, he’s mine. You said I could play with him!’
Exasperated Angelus let go of Will’s ear and lashed out with his boot, kicking him so he rolled half way across the room, ending up against the wall. Will snarled, and picked himself up, his eyes glowing gold. ‘Bloody hell, this isn’t fair. I bit him first. He belongs to me. That’s the rule.’
‘And since when did you care for rules?’ Angelus growled at him. ‘Dru, will you stop that,’ he said to his other childe who was still pawing at his arm insistently. She whimpered and drew back. ‘Now be quiet, both of you.’ He looked across at the chained youth who hadn’t made a sound throughout this exchange, and with a little rumble of anger he strode across, grabbed the youth’s head and yanked his eyelids up. A pair of grey-blue eyes stared back at him. Soft eyes, the colour of the sky before dawn on a summer’s day, wide with fear now and moist from the unstoppable welling of tears that spilled up to slide noiselessly down his white cheeks. Angelus paused. ‘This thing could be your brother, Spike.’
Will, who having pulled up his shirt had been surreptitiously examining a boot shaped bruise on his ribs, looked up sharply at the sound of his nickname. ‘Don’t be daft.’
‘It’s too long since you saw a mirror, boy. Come over here and stand beside him.’ Will slouched over reluctantly. ‘What do you think, Dru?’ Angelus glanced behind him. ‘Drusilla?’
Dru, though, had put her hands to her head. ‘Nooo,’ she moaned. ‘Nooo. No.’ she stamped her foot. ‘No!’
‘What is it?’
‘Do you see something?’
The men became alert.
‘The sky,’ she wailed. ‘The sky is losing its place. All the stars are dancing but they’ve lost their measure and everything falls to earth. Oh!’ She gave a great sob and buried her face in her hands. ‘I’m afraid.’
‘Of what, darling?’
She looked up at them, cruelly. ‘Of being hungry! I want my dinner. Snip. Snap!’ She pointed at the prey.
Angelus flung his head back in annoyance. ‘Oh, really, Dru!’
Will laughed. ‘So much for the great prophetess.’
‘Enough,’ Angelus snapped, his patience exhausted. ‘Have him. Share him if you can or fight over him if you can’t. I’m going out.’
Will looked at him. ‘You said you weren’t hunting tonight.’
Angelus cocked an eyebrow. ‘And?’
Will shut his mouth. ‘Nothing.’
Angelus cast another glance at the hanging youth. His eyes were open now and he could see from the way they flickered from one to another that he was following every word of the conversation. The resemblance to Will was uncanny. ‘Is that why you wanted him? Because you thought I’d be hungry?’
Will looked away, embarrassed; and Angelus reached across and chucked him under the chin. ‘Well aren’t you a good little boy. Bringing a shiny apple for teacher!’
‘Never mind, my boy. I’ll save him for later. Dru, I’ve changed my mind. You can play here with Will until I get back, but neither of you are to touch him.’ He gestured at where the weeping victim swung helplessly from his chains, then plucked his hat and a long black coat off its hook and made his way out into the night.
Will and Dru considered each other. ‘Well now neither of us gets him,’ Dru exclaimed angrily. ‘Angelus will keep him all to himself. I wanted him to leave, not say we couldn’t touch.’
Will shrugged and went and collapsed in the chair Angelus had vacated.
‘I’m hungry!’ Dru said petulantly.
Will stirred himself to show more of an interest in this. ‘Have some of mine.’ He held out his wrist towards her with a little coquettish smile. ‘I’ve fed,’ he added pointedly when she didn’t respond.
‘I don’t want you. I want him.’ She stalked over to the youth and suddenly darted out her fingers at him, stopping a hair’s breadth from his skin. She started to sway back and forth, crooning to herself, her hands making little fluttering motions as she traced out the shape of his body in the air, almost, but not quite, brushing his cold sweating form; preserving that invisible barrier of not touching that Angelus had commanded. ‘Monitus. Monstro. Monstrum. Moratus. Morbidus. Mordax. Morior…’ On and on she chanted. Will watched, fascinated, with a slight smile on his lips. The other youth’s eyes were fixed on Drusilla too, locked in her gaze. She stopped as suddenly as she had begun. ‘What’s your name?’
The youth licked dry lips. ‘William.’
Will started and sat up straight. ‘What?’
The youth didn’t break his gaze with Drusilla. ‘William, sir.’
Will snarled. ‘Is that supposed to be some sort of joke?’
‘No, sir. My name really is William.’
‘William what? You humans have two names don’t you?’
‘William Clavus, sir.’
‘Oh.’ Will sank back, but Dru sniggered.
‘I like this one. He’s clever. If I turned him and unchained him and hung you up there instead, do you think Angelus would notice?’
‘I’d like to see you try.’
‘Oh don’t be like that, my little Spike. I wouldn’t leave Daddy alone with you for long. And you know you like it when he plays with you.’
Will abruptly got up and came and stood beside her. He snapped his fingers, trying to get the youth’s attention. ‘So then, William,’ he laid a heavy emphasis on the name, ‘who bit you first then?’
‘I can’t remember, sir.’
‘Well you can remember going into the churchyard, can’t you?’
‘Yes sir.’ He still hadn’t broken his gaze from Drusilla who was swaying slightly again and smiling to herself.
‘Well then. And who invited you into that churchyard?’
‘Well, you both did.’
‘Dru? What does he mean?’
She smiled dreamily to herself. ‘I met him beside the pastry shop and he smiled ever so sweetly at me. Just like a cherry tart,’ she sang. ‘So I waved to him and curtsied to him and asked him to meet me in the churchyard at midnight so I could give him a kiss.’
Will’s narrowed his eyes. ‘What time was this?’
She laughed. ‘I don’t know. I don’t have a watch.’ She turned out her pockets to show him that they were indeed empty.
Will snorted and turned his attention back to his dangling double. ‘And you met me outside the boot-makers and agreed to come to the churchyard.’
Will caught a hint of something in the others gaze and drew his fist back for a punch.
‘Will!’ Dru called, scared.
Will remembered himself just in time and lowered his hand. ‘Yeh, well. Later maybe.’ He pulled away and took a turn around the room restlessly. ‘I suppose you’ll say you can’t remember which one of us met you first?’ he said across his shoulder.
‘No. I don’t have a watch either.’
‘Of course not. And, what with the blood loss and everything, I expect you’re feeling all confused and sad, poppet.’
‘My poor little Billy. He’s not feeling himself tonight,’ said Dru, making motherly crooning noises and tracing the air around him with her hands again.
‘Dru, will you stop doing that.’
‘He said we mustn’t touch. He didn’t say not to do anything else.’
‘Oh of course. And you think Angelus will care about the difference when he gets back?’
Dru opened her eyes wide and looked at him. ‘Are you scared of Daddy, Spike?’
‘Oh and you aren’t!’ He involuntarily gave a shake of his shoulders as if shrugging something off. ‘No, I’m not scared of Angelus. But I want to keep my hide intact, thank you very much. And you know perfectly well that if you annoy him he’ll more than likely take it out of me, not you. Especially, Princess, since you only enjoy it when he wallops you.’
‘Hmmm,’ said Dru, with a happy smile, making odd little dagger gestures with her hands.
‘It sounds to me like you’re scared of him,’ William remarked.
Will swung round. ‘You keep your damn mouth shut! What the hell does it have to do with you?’
William shrugged, as nonchalantly as was possible with both arms stretched above his head. ‘It just seems to me that you are scared of him, that’s all. Seems pretty sensible to me. He’s a big chap, and your sire and all.’
‘I am not scared of Angelus. Do you understand that, you little squirt.’ Again he stopped his hand the vital half-inch from William’s throat. But he had the slight satisfaction of seeing the other man pull back involuntarily that time. He smirked and then peered closely at William’s neck. ‘Dru, which side do you bite normally?’
‘The left. You know that.’
Will sighed and threw up his eyes, then pointed ‘And I bit him on the right. Take a look.’
Dru came over and stood on tip-toe to peer at where William’s shirt had fallen open to show a pair of ragged puncture marks on each side. ‘We both bit him.’ Will explained. He shot a look back up at William’s face. ‘Doesn’t solve the problem of which of us bit first, though.’
‘No. So sorry,’ William responded.
‘You will be.’ Will snapped, then he swung round and went and slumped in the chair again. ‘Dru, leave him and come and play.’ He held out his hand to her, fed up and pleading.
‘Don’t want to,’ she responded pertly.
‘Come over, Dru. We can’t do anything with him until Angelus gets back. I’m bored.’
‘But of course you aren’t scared of him.’
Will stood up and vamped out in one quick movement. ‘Have you any idea what I could do to you?’
‘No. But I would like to see Angelus take your hide off for touching me.’
‘You, believe me, will not be in any position to appreciate the show.’
Dru went and sat on the lid of the toy-box, clasping her knees to her chest and rocking back and forth with glee. ‘My boys are fighting,’ she sang. ‘My boys are fighting.’
‘Your boys.’ Will turned to her, morphing back into human form. ‘And what do you mean by that? Since when has he been yours?’
‘Since I bit him first,’ she said matter of factly.
‘Aaargh!’ He threw his hands up in exasperation. ‘Dru, for the last time: he’s mine.’
‘Fuck Angelus! Angelus isn’t here. Your precious daddy wasn’t interested, as usual, and he’s buggered off, so his opinion bloody well doesn’t count at the moment, see! And I bit him first.’
‘If his opinion doesn’t count, then why won’t you touch me, Spike?’ William said.
‘I will in a damn minute if you don’t shut up. And don’t call me that.’
‘I’m sorry. I thought it was your name.’
‘Not to you it isn’t.’
Will kicked at the floor angrily, since it was the only thing in reach that he could kick. ‘Hang on,’ he said suddenly, ‘if you don’t have a watch how did you know when it was midnight?’
‘From the church clock,’ Dru and William chorused together and William added ‘Naturally,’ whilst Dru giggled.
Will frowned and looked slightly worried. ‘What time did we say we would meet?’ he asked cautiously.
‘Er, that I can’t remember.’
‘Naturally,’ Will retorted with heavy sarcasm. ‘So this is what happened: I met you and bit you and then you…’
‘Left. Exactly. Only you didn’t because you loafed about until Dru showed up and she bit you and then brought you here— See! I must have bitten him first, Dru. Else you would have seen me!’
‘No,’ she said. ‘Because after I bit him he was naughty and ran away and I couldn’t find him for a while. That must have been when you bit him.’
‘I remember you dipping me in the horse-trough afterwards, ma’am,’ William said helpfully.
‘Shut your mouth!’ Will glowered. ‘Why would he stay in the churchyard after you’d bitten him? He was cool as a cucumber when I met him, not running from anything.’
‘Well he was happy and sweet when I met him, so there.’
‘Yeh. And long and green I expect.’
‘I don’t know what you mean.’
‘To be sure.’
The three of them looked at each other, aware that they had reached an impasse.
‘You two might as well go and enjoy yourselves,’ William suggested. ‘I’ll m-manage on my own.’
Will reached into his inside pocket and took out a cigarette case, he walked over to the gas light, lifted off the shade and lit one carefully, taking great care not to damage the fragile mantle, then he replaced the shade and lounged against the wall.
Drusilla’s eyes suddenly fell on the box she had been sitting on. ‘My Angelus never re-locked the toy-box!’ she said excitedly.
Will blew out a long stream of smoke. ‘Oh, how wonderful.’
‘But don’t you see, silly, that means we can have all sorts of fun!’
‘I have to see quite enough of the contents of that box, thanks.’
‘Doesn’t my Spikey want to play any more?’ She pouted.
I didn’t mean that sort of play, he thought; but he couldn’t refuse her. He rolled his eyes and pushed himself off the wall. ‘What do you want to do?’
Dru was rummaging through the box again. ‘We could use this!’ she suggested, holding up a small flat-iron.
Will shifted uncomfortably. ‘I’m not using that. Put it back.’
Dru frowned but returned it to the box. ‘Oh look!’ She held up a twelve-inch rod of metal, curved at one end.
Will scowled. ‘That’s mine. What’s that doing in there? I wondered where it had gone.’ He took it from her and tossed it into the corner where his few possessions skulked in a fetid heap.
Dru was searching again. ‘Pliers!’ she squealed.
‘Dru, the last time he used those on you, you couldn’t pick anything up for a week.’
‘So he’s not going to be very happy if he comes back and finds I’ve half crippled you. He never believes that you want it, not… Can’t I just use my belt?’ he pleaded.
‘No! That’s boring. Angelus never leaves the toy-box open.’
‘I can’t think why,’ William commented.
‘Shut up!’ Will and Dru chorused together.
‘Excuse me!’ There was a pause; then William craned a little, trying to see. ‘How about that toasting fork.’
‘What toasting fork?’ Dru asked.
‘I saw you with it earlier.’
‘So you were peeping! I knew you were!’
‘Well, just a little. Look in the bottom.’
Will stared at him in disbelief. ‘Er, mate, you do know she’s going to use it on you the second Angelus comes back, don’t you?’
‘Quite probably.’ William started to make rapid beckoning motions with his head, inviting Will to come over to him.
Will gave a look of mock astonishment, cast a glance at Dru, who was absorbed in her search, and sauntered over. ‘What?’
‘Look,’ William said in a low voice. ‘She wants you to hurt her. That’s obvious enough. And when Angelus comes back he’s not going to be best pleased about it. That’s pretty clear as well. So what you need is a good story – something that will convince.’
Will took a steady pull on his cigarette. Dru was watching him and frowning.
‘Why don’t you let me down and then say I attacked her,’ William went on. ‘That could explain any bruises and give you a chance to make her happy without you risking your own skin.’
Will gave him a look. ‘Oh yeh, to be sure mate. Cos Angelus is so stupid he will be bound to believe that.’
‘Well he might. If you made it convincing.’
‘Do you think I’m simple or what?’
‘We could say the hook snapped.’ William jerked the chains by way of demonstration. Will looked up at the hook without thinking and received a face full of manacle as he did so. He leapt back out of reach and vamped again. William was actually laughing. ‘You idiot! You are such an idiot Spike.’
Will lunged and was only stopped by Dru, grabbing him around the waist. ‘Spike! You mustn’t. He will be back soon.’
Will pulled himself together. ‘Are you mad?’ he asked, still not as calmly as he would have liked.
‘No,’ William replied evenly. ‘Quite the opposite.’
‘Spike, he’s trying to make you angry so you’ll hit him.’
‘Well it’s working.’
‘Spike, you mustn’t.’
‘Yes, yes. And Angelus will be back any minute.’ He shrugged Dru off and walked over to the box, scooped the spilled contents back in, closed the lid firmly, and snapped the padlock shut.
‘William! I hadn’t chosen yet!’ Dru wailed.
‘And you’re not going to,’ he replied. ‘Oh, I’m sorry, sweetheart.’ He came back to her with a tender look. ‘But I can’t open it now: you know Angelus has the only key.’
‘It’s not fair!’
‘No, it isn’t.’ He kissed her fondly on the forehead. ‘We could still have some fun though.’
‘But there aren’t even any chains now,’ Dru whimpered. William gave a suggestive clank, and she turned to look, eyes gleaming. ‘Spike, we could—’
‘He needn’t know—’
She pouted. ‘We could put him back afterwards. And if you unlocked them carefully it wouldn’t actually be touching him.’
‘And how do we prevent him leaving in the meantime?’
She looked around, chewing her lip. ‘You could tie him to the table leg with your belt,’ she said.
‘That might work,’ William put in.
‘Dru, he’d be out of that door the second I turned my back.’
‘I wouldn’t,’ William said helpfully. ‘I could give you my word. It would be worth it just to rest my arms a little. This is,’ he laughed ironically, ‘rather uncomfortable.’
‘Yes, well, you try hanging there for eight days without anyone taking a blind bit of notice of you and you’ll find out about uncomfortable, mate,’ Will snarled at him.
‘It wasn’t eight days, Will. Daddy let you down after eight nights; that’s only seven days.’
‘Well it felt like eight.’
‘It was only seven.’
‘Yes. That sounds very uncomfortable. But I’m only human you see. So I would give my word for a break now.’
‘We could let him play too,’ Dru said.
‘And exactly how would we do that without touching him?’
‘Oh, you don’t even want to play properly.’ She stamped her foot.
‘I could do my best to join in somehow. You could try to frighten me with something.’
Will glowered. Then he hesitated. ‘Who are you?’
‘I said. William Clavus.’
‘Clavus? Funny sort of name,’ Will mused.
He looked around and walked over to the table where a few books were scattered, selected one and started to thumb through it rapidly. He stopped after a moment, read, then gave a loud sigh, turned round and threw the book straight at William; who fortunately jerked out of the way just in time, with the remark, ‘Does throwing things not count as touching?’ The book sailed across the room and dented the wall.
‘It’s spike, you cool bastard, clavus just means spike.’ He turned on Dru. ‘You knew that, didn’t you!’
She smiled and hugged herself ‘ He’s clever, my little Billy.’
‘Oh, I’m sure he is. And I’ll wager his name’s not Billy either.’
‘It is actually. Only it’s William Sullivan.’
‘No it’s not. I know that one as well. Try again.’
‘Cherubson?’ the man suggested.
‘You really do want me to kill you,’ Will said conversationally. ‘That’s almost interesting. I wonder why that is.’ He leaned back against the table.
Dru had started and was looking worried. ‘Will, how did he get away from you in the churchyard?’
Will looked away as casually as he could manage. ‘He just did. Does it matter? How did he get away from you for that matter?’
‘He was naughty. I had just started to kiss him when he showed me something nasty.’ She had started to sway again.
‘A crucifix?’ Will straightened up. ‘He had a crucifix? Now why would you be carrying a crucifix, mate? I can’t think. But then I’m only a stupid vampire. Can you tell me?’
‘Unless of course it is for the very same reason that you haven’t been yelling “What are you! Why do you have such great long teeth?” eh, mate?’
‘He’s one of them, Dru.’ He gestured angrily. ‘He’s a bloody Watcher. You brought a bloody Watcher home!’
‘Hush.’ Drusilla purred and danced towards the hanging man, like a rich black oil seeping across the floor. ‘A Watcher.’ She shivered her head in front of William’s, eyes locking into eyes. ‘I’ve always wanted a Watcher to play with.’
‘Angelus is going to flay me,’ Will pronounced.
‘I-I don’t see why,’ the Watcher called over. He was trying to avoid Drusilla’s gaze. ‘I would have thought he would be rather pleased.’
Will ignored him. ‘I’m raw meat when he gets back.’
‘Hmm,’ Dru muttered.
Will looked at her in shock. ‘That’s what you want!’ he exclaimed. ‘That’s what you’ve wanted all evening, you bitch. You want to watch him lay into me!’
‘Shush, Will. Not now.’
‘I can’t believe you, Dru. He ignores me for months and now you just want him to leather me.’ She wasn’t listening. He subsided; then he chewed on his lip, brow creased with concentration for a few seconds, before he opened his eyes wide and stiffened, looking about the room rapidly. ‘Dru, was he alone?’
Dru wasn’t listening, she was waving her fingers in front of her eyes and muttering something; the Watcher seemed totally entranced.
‘What?’ she snapped, turning round crossly. The Watcher jerked his head as the spell was broken.
‘Was he alone, pet?’
‘Yes.’ She turned back.
‘Are you sure, Dru?’ He crossed to her and took her arm. ‘You weren’t followed?’
‘No. Leave me alone, William.’
He dropped her arm obediently but he was still worried. He walked over to the door, pressed his ear against it and listened for several minutes, then went and did the same at the chimney breast and each of the well-curtained windows in turn; standing to one side to peer out into the dark without being seen, straining to the furthest extent of his super-human senses for any sign of danger.
There was nothing out of the ordinary, but he still wasn’t comfortable. He glanced back at Dru, who had resumed her muttering. ‘Dru, I’m just going to check outside. Will you be all right on your own for a minute?’ There was no answer. ‘Dru? Dru!’
Again she broke off and turned round even more angrily, she actually vamped out. ‘William, I am trying to concentrate.’
‘I’m worried, Dru. I’m just going to check outside.’
She immediately returned to her human face. ‘Will, no! You mustn’t.’
‘I just need to check.’
‘No!’ She ran across the room and caught him.
She made a face. ‘Daddy said you shouldn’t leave,’ she said quickly.
‘No he didn’t.’
‘Yes he did. He said I was to stay here and play with you.’
Will paused. He couldn’t actually remember exactly what Angelus had said, because at the time he had had no intention of going out again and he hadn’t been paying attention. He gazed down at his beloved Drusilla, who he knew was perfectly capable of screaming the house down if she thought she was being thwarted, or if a command of her darling daddy’s was being disobeyed. ‘Dru,’ he said cautiously, worried about alarming her, ‘it might not be safe. There might be a Slayer out there. That’s why you have to be very quiet and I have to go and check.’
‘Dru,’ he took her pale face between his hands, ‘I’m pretty sure of it. That’s why he kept trying to make me go for him. He wanted the noise. He wants to attract his Slayer. He was quiet as a mouse when Angelus was here, because he knows how dangerous Angelus can be if you react, but the second he had gone he perked up and tried to make me shout at him, or at worst to give him an excuse to scream. There must be a Slayer out there, Princess, and I need to check.’
‘Oh, Will.’ She reached up and licked the length of his cheekbone. ‘My little Spike, my little soldier. Of course there is a Slayer out there. That’s why I’m not going to let you go out on your own.’ He blinked. ‘Now be a good boy and be quiet whilst I get this silly man to talk to me.’ She took him by the hand and led him back to the chair then returned to her victim and again resumed her mesmerising spell.
Will leaned across the chair-back, not watching her but casting glances between the door, the windows and the great, wide chimney-breast, big enough to admit an army. The Watcher was starting to moan at whatever phantasms Drusilla was conjuring around him.
What about Angelus? Will thought. And his reaction was not: Angelus is going to be furious, as it had always been in the past. It was: Angelus isn’t safe. There’s a Slayer out there and he knows nothing about it. I’ve got to warn him.
He looked back at Dru. The Watcher was writhing and gnashing his teeth, drool spilling from the corner of his mouth, and Drusilla was leaning forward, asking something urgently.
Will slunk across the floor, using every trick he had ever haphazardly picked up from Angelus to move silently. He lifted the heavy latch of the door, pulled it the barest few inches ajar and slid out, closing it behind himself. The others never even noticed.
Outside, alone in the dark, he became aware of how cold it was. His thick, black hunting-coat was still inside, as was his cap. There was a strong wind gusting – every tree, bush and blade of grass for miles around seemed to be rustling with it. Loose shutters and gates banged, tiles rattled. It was a good night for hunting. But tonight he was not the hunter. An unfamiliar sensation breathed through Will’s body. Tonight he was the prey.
He waited in the lee of the house, motionless as only the lifeless, who do not need to stir even to breathe, can be. Blending seamlessly into the shadows. Only his eyes were alert, scanning every dark hollow of the nightscape for something that did not belong there. Rich in innumerable shades of grey, the world seemed to him and sharp featured as an etching; though a human would stumble, it was so dark. From the deep age-old shadows of the wood to the paleness of the church tower standing out against the scudding clouds, everything the night had to reveal was clear before him.
And it was all overlaid with the singing layers of scent. The background hum of leaves and grass and the late roses in the garden, the thick, strong scent of the horses in the nearby stables, and the pungent reek of a passing stoat. A light swift rush, like dust falling, came where an owl flew by. There were other smells out there too, less strong, but just as telling to him. The light, sharp tang of a stable-boy, staying up late with one of his ailing charges. The heavier, thicker odour of a middle-aged poacher in the woods. And, faint but unmistakable, the bitter-sweet, blood and sulphur smell of his sire.
Where was he though?
The lines of sound and scent were confused by the wind, whipped and streaming away so their source could be half a mile off whilst something nearby might be hidden. The Slayer could be a few feet away from him and he wouldn’t know it.
Not the hunter, but the hunted.
I am of the blood of Aurelius, he told himself, and I don’t have time to be afraid.
Where would Angelus have gone? He ran through his mind all the places his sire had ever taken him. That had mostly been a long time ago. Back in the first bright months after he had been made, when he had run wild with the new power in him and Angelus had indulged his fresh-turned obsession, with savage nights of hunting in pubs, brothels and music halls and long days of other lessons. Before he was handed down to Dru like a half-worn-out jacket and Angelus began to notice him only to hurt him.
That had been in cities for the main part though, and it was hard to imagine Angelus in any such places in a small, sleepy town. The pubs were long shut, there was no music hall or theatre; not that one would be open at that time of night. Even a brothel seemed unlikely. They had only come because of the autumn hiring fair a few days before that had attracted wandering folk who would not be missed. But the last stalls had been cleared two days since and the little market town was returned to its staid workaday self.
What else could attract Angelus so late at night?
Then Will remembered the heavy bulge to the pocket of Angelus’s coat as he had picked it up. Money. Which meant a game of cards. Angelus was an avid gambler, with the luck of the fiend behind him, and if he had been invited to a private game somewhere then it could well be going on until close to dawn. And the most likely place to look was the back room of the largest inn in the main square. One last time he checked for danger, and then slipped off into the night.
Angelus let his hand linger above the cards, a little smile on his lips as he bathed in his opponent’s fear. Tonight I’ll have your farm and your future, he thought to himself. Tomorrow I will see if you will exchange that pretty wife of yours for some of it back.
There was a small-town attempt at a discreet cough from behind him. He whipped round. ‘Yes?’
‘There is a person asking for you, sir. A young person.’
‘Did this person give a name?’
‘He said William, sir. No other name.’
‘Oh. He’s mine. Send him in.’ He returned his attention to his opponent, who was still seeking desperately for something in his cards that would somehow make them other than they were. When Will came in Angelus snapped his fingers at him without looking and pointed to the corner, intending for the boy to wait there. He was annoyed therefore when his childe came straight over to him instead. He looked up with a frown and jerked his head commandingly towards the corner. Will bit his lip; he had been taught early that it was never a good idea to make Angelus repeat himself, even if the order was unspoken.
But Angelus was no fool, and he knew that if his childe was risking his displeasure so blatantly then there must be a good reason for it. ‘I will have to hurry you,’ he said to his opponent.
The young farmer looked up despairingly. ‘I haven’t got it,’ he said. ‘You already have the wages for my men, my savings – everything.’ He swallowed. ‘Maybe a note on my uncle—’
‘No.’ Angelus put his cards down with a snap. ‘Not interested’ He stood up. ‘And, since you gentlemen have nothing else to offer me, I shall call it a night.’ There was a slight murmur from the other players. Stout farmers with their harvest wealth just gone that little bit lighter and prosperous town shopmen who had been feeling rich after the increased takings the fair had brought in: now all regretting their meeting with the dark stranger. Angelus ignored them all and swept his winnings into his pockets, threw down a sovereign or two to pay the pot bill, and grabbed Will by the collar, steering him out of the door and into the little back yard. A dank place, empty of anything except a few dumped beer-kegs and a small yearling ash sapling growing out of a crack in the cobbles.
Angelus pushed Will roughly against the wall. ‘This had better be unbelievably important, boy. You just lost me over a hundred pounds in there.’
Will blinked. One way or another it had never occurred to him to plan what he was actually going to say to Angelus when he found him. Explaining that his intended present had turned out to be a Watcher whose Slayer was probably stalking them at that very moment, somehow didn’t seem an attractive option. But then nor was silence.
‘You need to come home.’
The first of the departing farmers was surprised to see their erstwhile tormentor still standing in the yard with his arm pressed to the throat of the young man who had interrupted them. ‘Is everything all right here?’ he called.
Angelus ignored him ‘Well?’
‘It’s… my sister. Er… sir. I think she needs you.’
‘Your sister?’ Angelus relaxed his hold a little and threw a discouraging glare at the intruding rustic who was still hovering with a concerned expression. The man hurried off to his bed. ‘You left her alone?’
‘Yes. I had to find you.’
‘Did it not occur to you that whatever tale she spun you to get you out of the house, was designed for exactly that purpose?’
Will frowned, ‘But—’ Angelus struck him full across the face so his head smacked back against the wall. There was a shocked gasp from two more of the yokels who had just emerged. Will clenched his fists and concentrated on not vamping out. He was surprised when Angelus took a step back.
‘So how did she convince you?’
Will hung his head. For once his wits had deserted him, he couldn’t think of anything other than the truth, but with the two locals still gawping at the late night spectacle he couldn’t even say that. He looked up at his sire with pleading eyes.
It seemed like a small miracle but Angelus actually seemed to take the hint, because he turned round and gave the men another discouraging look, letting the demon flash briefly behind his eyes. They too hurried off. The vampires watched them go.
‘I think there may be a Slayer in town,’ Will finally said.
He was expecting anger, disbelief, possibly some sort of action. All he got was another blow across the cheek. When the ringing had passed he turned back to find Angelus sneering down at him, holding him roughly by a fistful of his thin indoor jacket. ‘Have you forgotten, boy, what I told you to do if a Slayer ever showed up?’
‘No!’ Will flared. ‘Because you have never once told me anything of the sort.’
Angelus sniggered. ‘I presumably didn’t think you worth the trouble. If you were you would know: you stay together; you stay where you are but consider your escape route; you watch your perimeter. And you don’t relax. And since Dru understands all this perfectly well and would not have let you out if there was any real danger, I think we can safely say where the mistake has occurred.’
‘I haven’t made any mistakes!’
‘What, not a single one? Letting Dru fool you into leaving was just an amusing eccentricity?’ They both paused whilst there was the sound of the landlord bolting the inn door behind them. One by one the lights began to dim and be put out.
‘She doesn’t know I’m gone.’
‘You managed to sneak out past Drusilla?’
‘Why do I find that hard to believe?’
‘I did! She was hypnotising that man. We think he must be a Watcher.’
‘Him!’ Angelus sneered and smirked. ‘Why?’
‘Well, he wasn’t surprised by what we were, and he kept trying to get me to attack him, and he said his name was William.’ It suddenly didn’t sound so convincing.
Angelus rammed him harder against the wall. ‘Will, my boy, densely stupid you may be but try to grasp some obvious facts: that man had spent maybe an hour in Drusilla’s company before she brought him home. That is plenty of time to concoct twenty believable stories.’ He stopped and cocked his head. ‘But you thought that man was a Watcher, which meant there was a Slayer out here, so you came to warn me?’ He studied his childe for a second with a puzzled expression, then he gradually released his hold and let Will stand up straight. ‘Tell me exactly what happened. From the beginning.’ He took a leisurely stride across the yard and yanked up the little ash sapling, then he brought out a pocket-knife and started to trim off the leaves and side branches.
Will watched him. ‘I met him in the town this evening, he didn’t seem anything special.’
Angelus didn’t look up from what he was doing. ‘Where was Drusilla?’
‘She wanted to go into the dress shop. And I know you told me to stay with her, but I couldn’t go in there, could I?’
‘One,’ Angelus said with quiet menace. ‘Go on.’
‘Well she was being bloo— very slow, and the shops were going to shut in a few minutes, so I wandered along the street a bit.’
‘ And I saw that man.’
‘Outside the cobblers. He was looking in the window.’
‘Had he been there long?’
‘Since before Dru went into the shop?’
‘Um, maybe. Well, yes, I suppose so.’
‘Three.’ Angelus beheaded the green tip of the sapling with a firm cut of his knife. There was about three-foot left, excluding the roots.
‘So I got him talking.’
‘And since you didn’t make any mistakes you had presumably noticed his appearance.’
Will paused cautiously. ‘I was concentrating on catching him. Not on what he looked like.’
‘And I found out he wasn’t local.’ He stressed that part, because he knew it was something he had done right.
‘Good.’ Angelus was trimming the bottom of the ash now, where it was as thick as his forefinger. It tapered off to a whippy nothing at the other end.
‘So I asked him if he would meet me in the churchyard later.’
‘Five. How did you get him to agree?’
‘Um. I just did.’
There was a low growl.
‘Oh. You know…’ He hung his head.
Angelus reached out and pulled Will’s chin up. ‘What are you stuttering about, boy? You’re a pretty lad. Why not use what you’ve got?’ Angelus actually smiled, and ran his finger across Will’s cheek; then tilted his head slightly, considering what he had in front of him afresh for the first time in a long while. ‘When did I last fuck you?’
‘I can’t remember.’
‘Hmm. Carry on.’
‘Then he left and Dru came out and she said we should go and look at the inn yards.’
‘Why?’ The tone was a pedantic one, demanding an answer he already knew.
‘Er… She didn’t say.’
‘Six,’ Angelus said sarcastically. ‘And seven for not then asking. She wanted to check which carriages were leaving and which staying to get some idea of what strangers would be in town tonight.’
‘Oh. Well we hung around the yard for a bit and Dru flir— talked with some people, um…’
‘And you weren’t paying attention, boy. Eight.’
‘Then she said I should stay and talk to the stable boys because they wouldn’t say everything to a lady.’
‘Nine for letting her leave you. Again. And did you know what you were supposed to be talking to them about?’ Will chewed his lip and looked away. ‘Ten. Did you find out anything useful at all?’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘Well you should know, so that’s eleven. Now try to think for once, did you or didn’t you?’
‘I met her back in the square when I was supposed to. I suppose she must have seen that chap whilst I was away. She said she met him outside the bakers and asked him to come to the churchyard.’ He straightened up. ‘Which means I did see him first.’
‘I think you will find, William, that she first saw him a long time before you did. When he was outside the cobblers in fact. Which makes twelve.’
Will scowled. ‘You already counted that one.’
‘Yes, but you clearly hadn’t grasped the fact, so I’m counting it again. And don’t argue with me, boy, or I’ll make it thirteen. You can also presume that she had found out from him that he had arranged to meet you, and where, and probably a few other things as well. What did you do for the bulk of the evening?’
‘Sat in the pub.’
‘Were you drinking?’
‘Maybe. A bit. So was Dru.’
‘I should hope so. There’s nothing so obvious as sitting in a bar and not buying anything, but you clearly don’t know that. Who was there?’
Will just looked at him.
Angelus sighed and started to pare the bark off his sapling with delicate flicks of his wrist. ‘Well you must have some idea.’
‘There were farmers and things. Just men. They were getting drunk. Happy.’
‘And every single one of them could have been a potential meal. Describe at least one of them to me. The most vulnerable.’
Will scoured his memory frantically. ‘There was a thin chap, sat by the bar. By himself. Kept trying to talk to the barmaid. He didn’t seem to have any friends. Must have been a stranger.’
‘Or he was feeling unsociable, or fancied the barmaid, or none of his friends were in that night. Was she talking back to him?’
‘Then he was probably her sweetheart. Try again.’
Will scowled. ‘I don’t know. There were so many of them. They all seemed the same. It was crowded. One of them spilt his drink on me.’
‘And you did what?’
‘Nothing. He apologised.’
‘It didn’t occur to you to pick a fight? To establish just who was fit and active, and who was unsupported by any friends? For God’s sake Will, you scrap all the time normally.’
‘I had Dru with me.’
‘Will, she’s a vampire. She’s hardly going to faint at the sight of blood. You do realise you just got to seventeen? Did you get anything at all out of the entire evening?’
‘Yeh, I’d already arranged to meet that man.’
‘And what about tomorrow night? And the one after that? When I let you go out, Will, you are working, not having a jolly evening out with Dru.’ He let this sink in for a while. ‘So you left at closing time?’
‘Please tell me that you stayed outside to see which ones were too drunk to get home properly.’ Will nodded. ‘And did you know you were supposed to do that, or were you just following Dru?’ Will hesitated a fraction too long. ‘Twenty. Though I’ve a good mind to make that one count as twenty-one. This does not make for an amusing list, William.’
Will muttered something inaudibly.
‘What did you say?’
Angelus gave an experimental cut of his switch through the air. ‘William, do I have to remind you who you are talking to?’
‘You had really better start concentrating then. What happened next? How did Dru get away from you this time?’
Will hid his scowl. ‘We followed one of them for a bit.’
‘Her suggestion or yours?’
‘Hers. I was just doing what she told me to,’ he pointed out.
‘And why that one?’
‘Because he was very drunk, and alone, and he’d said he had a long way to go to get to his lodgings, only it didn’t matter him being late since his landlady was away.’
‘At last he’s thinking! Thank you. Why didn’t you take him in the end?’
‘A policeman turned up and arrested him for being drunk and disorderly.’
‘A pity, but it happens. So where were you then?’
‘I dunno, the whole place looks—’ He saw Angelus’s expression and quickly corrected himself. ‘In Wool Lane, half way along. I wanted to get back to the church because it was getting late. Only she wanted to follow the policeman. You know she’s got that thing about coppers.’
‘Had you told her about your appointment?’
‘Twenty-two. An important part of hunting together is telling your partner where and what you are planning.’
‘And I will speak to her about it. It doesn’t excuse you. The fact remains that you didn’t tell her. Now answer me properly, boy: why not?’
Will met his sire’s eye. ‘I wanted to bring him home, by myself. Just me. My kill.’
Angelus considered this. ‘Did you have a plan?’
‘Yeh. I was going to meet him in the churchyard and bite him and bring him home.’
‘No. I meant for evading Drusilla.’
‘Oh. No. I didn’t need one. She went off after that copper and I slipped away. She didn’t notice.’
Angelus held up his hand. ‘So you are telling me, Will, that you spent the entire evening sitting in the pub, not paying attention to what you should have been doing and knowing that you wanted to do this thing later, but you didn’t make any sort of plan for how to go about it?’ He paused to see if he was going to get an answer, but none was forthcoming. ‘We are clearly going to have to address this later. So you arrived at the churchyard. What time was it?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t have a watch.’
‘Then for the love of Mike steal one. Was he already there?’
‘No. I had to wait.’
‘How was he behaving when he turned up?’
Angelus raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.
Will frowned. ‘He… he was maybe a bit distant.’
‘Bewitched and short of blood possibly?’
‘Did he say anything? Ask you anything?’
‘That didn’t strike you as odd?’
‘Where do you think Dru was whilst this thrilling exchange was taking place?’
‘Well, she said he got away from her by showing her a crucifix.’ He pushed himself forward a little. ‘That’s why he must be a Watcher, Sire, why else would he have a crucifix.’
‘Do you think Dru would bring home someone who had had a crucifix? She’s mad, not stupid.’ He sighed. ‘You mustn’t underestimate Drusilla just because she acts like a child. She can bewitch a man without him even realising it. She was probably doing it right in front of you tonight. I think we can safely say she wanted that man from the first moment she saw he looked like you. And when you failed to bring him home, despite her best efforts to soften him up for you, she brought him instead and then ensured your bickering would get rid of me so she could play with both of you. Only I imagine she is not too happy about the fact that you came out here to find me.’
‘So she didn’t fool me into leaving?’
‘No. You fooled yourself.’
‘Which leaves one question: how did he get away from you?’
‘Well… I bit him. But he…’
‘He… After I met him, he started to… try… to… touch me, he… kissed me.’ Will stopped, but a glance up told him that stopping wasn’t an option. ‘Whilst I was feeding, he…’
‘He stuck his hand down your trousers to find out if you’d got anything worth seeing.’
Will nodded miserably.
‘And that was why he got away from you?’ Angelus snapped the knife shut and returned it to his pocket, then he very carefully rested the completed switch on the top of one of the barrels and took his childe’s face between his hands. ‘Will, you are a vampire. Why on earth are you so worried about this? So you enjoyed it, or you didn’t enjoy it, or you wanted to and then couldn’t. Confound it, boy! Why does it matter to you so much?’ He searched Will’s face for an answer.
Will just clamped his mouth shut.
Angelus pondered how to proceed. Twenty-nine, he thought to himself. And he’s been a vampire for nearly eighteen months, but he had no idea half of them were even mistakes. Yet he came out here to warn me when he thought there was a Slayer outside. And now he’s embarrassed because some human he intended to kill touched him, while he looks at me as if he never wants to look away. Last night, he thought, I wouldn’t even have got him to talk this much. I would have kicked him three times round this yard within half a minute of getting him here and regarded that as paying too much attention to him. He gazed into the narrow, worried features. The sharp cheekbones with an ugly bruise blushing along one side, the clear blue eyes, the soft little hairs near the curve of his ear. He abruptly fastened his own mouth over Will’s and started to tease the lips open with his tongue.
Will’s eyes widened, and then he began to return the kiss.
Drusilla sighed. ‘You are a naughty boy, William.’ She frowned at the thing in her hands and looked around the room. There was no response from her companion. Dru picked up a dirty shirt from the heap in the corner and wiped what she was holding clean. The shirt became streaked with red. ‘If you’d only told me that earlier, we could have saved all this trouble!’ She abruptly hurled it with ferocious speed and accuracy at him. There was a sickening thud as it hit and bounced off.
She went to retrieve it again, being careful not to touch him. Throwing things didn’t count as touching: he had said so himself. ‘Look, there’s blood all over the floor now! Daddy won’t be pleased with that. Hmmm, blood.’ She knelt down gracefully and started to lap it up with sharp flicks of her long demon tongue. Making little mewling noises of pleasure to herself. ‘Waste not want not.’
She stood up and looked sadly at the empty armchair. ‘Where is my little Spike? He would have enjoyed this.’ Her demonically furrowed forehead folded itself further with anxiety. ‘Where can he have gone? It’s late and Daddy will be home soon.’ She looked back at her victim. ‘You will be very sorry when my daddy comes home. He will make you wish you had told me the truth.’ Again she hurled and this time it hit with a squelch. ‘You shouldn’t lie to Princess. My Angelus won’t stand for it. Because my William is Princess’s play friend and he must go with her and do as she says or Daddy hurts him.’ She sighed. ‘He used to hurt me. Why does he never hurt me anymore?’ She slipped back into human form. ‘Are you asleep?’ She went right up to him and peered closely. ‘Sleepy head!’ She chewed her lip thoughtfully. ‘You shouldn’t have said Aurelius. When I told you to make things up to make little Spikey cross, I never told you that. And he never said it and Angelus never said it, so you must have known it already. So you see I knew you were lying to Princess then. And you mustn’t lie to Princess.’ She trailed her foot in what was left of the blood on the floor, tracing pretty patterns. ‘I just wanted to have some fun with William, and make him play with me so Angelus would play with him a little.’ She looked straight at him. ‘Because you’re lonely, aren’t you, Spike, and you miss Daddy. He never hunts with you any more, or plays. Except for when he’s cross. So Princess just has to make him cross for you, Spikey.’ She frowned. ‘Spike? Why are you still so sleepy, Spike?’ She drew back her hand to slap him then checked herself. ‘No silly. He said not to touch. Where is he? And where are you, William?’
She went and sat in the armchair, clutching one knee and rocking back and forth. ‘I’m glad you are a Watcher. I’ve never seen a Watcher before.’ She chewed at her fingernail and then inspected it closely. ‘If I was allowed to touch I could squeeze your eyes out. Why don’t you have a Slayer?’ She glared at him. ‘Watchers ought to have Slayers, even if they have left the council. Otherwise they’re not proper. Perhaps you are still lying to me!’ She tilted her head to one side. ‘Are you lying to Princess, William?’ She sank back in the chair. ‘No, I don’t think you will lie any more. I wish you had told me sooner though, about not having a Slayer. We could have played ever so many different games. And maybe my little Spike would have stayed then. And I could have got my Angelus to play with him when he came home.’ She looked sad. ‘I don’t think Daddy will ever play with him now.’
She twisted round and peeped over the back of the chair as the door opened.
There was a prolonged silence.
‘Drusilla, what have you done?’
‘I said you weren’t to touch him.’
‘I didn’t. William tried to, but I’ve been ever so good, I haven’t touched him all night.’
Angelus walked over and pulled the railway-spike out of the man’s chest. ‘This is yours isn’t it?’
‘Yes,’ Will said.
‘He was a Watcher. He really was.’ Angelus didn’t even blink. ‘He knew all about us, but he doesn’t have a Slayer. I asked and he said he didn’t, because they made him leave the council for,’ she frowned in concentration, ‘Not being a proper man. What does that mean?’
‘Nothing important,’ Will said.
‘Will, how did this get here?’ Angelus asked mildly, tapping the iron.
Will looked at Dru. She was smiling sweetly at him, trusting, relying totally on his help. His big sister; who he loved more than anything in the world, the bane of his life who could lead her men-folk around like bears on a chain and whom he had been obsessed by from the moment he first saw her. ‘Does throwing something count as touching, Angelus?’ he asked.
The master vampire looked from one childe to the other and back. Which to punish and which to let go. When to rein in and when to let them think they had their head. ‘Drusilla,’ he said.
‘Tidy up this mess.’ He tossed the iron spike to the floor. ‘Will and I are going upstairs.’
Dru’s eyes flared. ‘I could bring the toy-box up for you,’ she said hopefully.
‘No.’ Angelus smiled. ‘Why would I want that? He and I just have things to talk about.’ He headed for the staircase. ‘And Drusilla, my girl, I may not have time to speak to you later, so I’m telling you now to make sure you clean up properly.’ He left.
Will glanced up at the dangling body, twisting slightly after Angelus had touched it. He stuck his thumbs in his belt and considered the man who could have been his brother. There were twenty-nine welts on his back and he ached in every muscle from everything he and Angelus had just done together, but he was happier than he had been for months thanks to this man. ‘I was all wrong about you, mate,’ he said quietly to himself.
Dru was looking sulky, her toy was gone and being made to clean up was the sort of punishment that was no fun at all. She reached out a hand to her brother. ‘Do you think he was mad, Spike? I think he was.’
More like a desperate warped old goat, who got scared out of his wits and hypnotised by a black witch, he thought. ‘I think he just wanted a bit of attention.’
‘Like you,’ she said. He laughed softly. She pouted ‘I want to play too.’
He smiled, and kissed her lightly on the forehead. ‘This isn’t play, Princess. This is work.’ And he ran upstairs to resume his training.