Dru: she’s one of the most difficult characters in the Jossverse to get a handle on. Mainly because she’s mad but also, poor dear, I can’t help thinking she suffers a lot from the fact we are all so obsessed with Spike. Dru is seldom seen as herself, instead she is one part of Spike & Dru, and not even a full half at that. So today I found myself considering how often I had thought about what Spike sees in Dru, and I realised that I have never given anything like as much consideration to what Dru might see in Spike. Yet actually the question is almost more pertinent – after all, she chose him, not the other way round.
This relates to a conversation I’ve been having with Shapinglight in which we touch on the subject of how Spike behaves towards his women. Because, as I see it, in Season 2 Spike was in charge of the S/D relationship (or Spru, as it is doubtless called these days :: sigh :: ). He was the master vamp and she could only affect things by manipulation. Then, as the seasons progressed the writers changed Spike’s personality so he became the fool for love who would do whatever his current woman told him to do.
Now this is of interest when you consider why Dru chose him and why she stayed with him. From the Season 2 model she would be looking for a protector, a dominant male to do dominant male stuff – in short, someone to fill the Angelus role when Angelus wasn’t there. This of course makes sense when you remember she calls Spike ’Daddy’ on several occasions. And that is certainly how early fanon interpreted the relationship – Spike is always an Angelus substitute, having to torture Dru just like Daddy did to prove his worth.
But as the seasons moved on, Spike was changed and his relationship to Dru changed with it. He became the fool for love. We actually discovered that Dru picked him out rather than have him chosen for her by Angelus (which was the canon from the tie in monstor book until FFL). And we actually got given the rational behind her initial choice.
- I’m full and warm – yet all alone.
- That’s not true, precious. You’ve got us.
- Not in the least. You won’t even have me just a little bit.
- All you have to do is ask.
- No. His head’s too full of you, grandmother.
- Stop calling me that.
- She hits a chuckling Angelus and pulls him down the street.
- following Don’t be cross. I could be your mummy.
- Well, if you’re lonely, Dru, why don’t you make yourself a playmate?
- I could. I could pick the wisest and bravest knight in all the land – and make him mine forever with a kiss.
So from Angelus’s point of view, when he gave Dru her permission to change William, Spike was to be a playmate because she was lonely. But from Dru’s point of view he was to be ’the bravest knight in all the world’. Which raises the fascinating question of why did she need a knight?
The obvious answer is, as always with that family, Angelus – if he had been beating Dru up and tormenting her on a regular basis as fanon would have us believe then she would obviously want a knight to ride to her rescue. That makes perfect sense. Except then why on earth did she chose William? Of course, since Destiny we know that Spike was ultimately able to beat Angel, once, but it took him a hundred and twenty three years and poor Dru wasn’t even in the picture by that stage – this is hardly a good choice of white knight to rescue her from the monster. If she had really just wanted a protector then why didn’t she pick someone taller, stronger and more able to punch Daddy for six and dance her off into the mist? (As Darla had done when she chose Angelus.) And clearly the answer to that – as shown nicely in Destiny – is that she didn’t want him to do anything of the sort because she never felt she wanted saving from Angelus in the first place.
We actually have quite a clear idea of how Dru and Angelus behaved together and, pace fanon, there wasn’t a lot of torture involved. In Darla, Destiny and late Season 2, Dru is only ever happy to have Angelus around. And they are sexual together, but never violent – the only hint of a violent relationship is Dru’s flirtatious ’Spank us till Tuesday. We promise to be bad if you do.’ in Reunion, which with respect is hardly the heights of sexual masochism. Darla has shown far more of a penchant for violence with her lovers than Dru ever has. Instead, Dru clearly pines for Angelus and she’s upset when he goes missing. Her excited ’Everything in my head is singing! We’re family again!’ in Innocence sums it up – she always wants daddy home.
So if he wasn’t supposed to rescue her from Angelus, what on earth was Spike for? And with Dru there is another possible answer that comes from her frustrated mothering instincts. These are a strong and consistent part of her character that we were shown from very early on. Dru keeps puppies and birds, she says longingly to Darla that she could be her Mummy, she is very excited about actually being Darla’s mummy in AtS2. Now a feeble wimp like William would obviously make a good candidate for mothering, and we actually get to see her try it, when Spike is in the wheelchair.
- I brought something for you. brings out a puppy Poor thing. She’s an orphan. Her owner died… without a fight. Do you like her? Hmm? reaches her hand into his jacket and rubs his chest I brought her especially for you… to cheer you up. And I’ve named her… sweetly Sunshine! offers the puppy to Spike Open wide. he looks away Come on, love. You need to eat something to keep your strength up. Now, waves the puppy around rrrrr, open up for mummy.
- I won’t have you feeding me like a child, Dru.
- Why not? She already bathes you, carries you around and changes you like a child.
This role of mother to Spike is clearly something Dru relishes then, but the problem lies right there in Spike’s ’I won’t have you feeding me like a child, Dru’. William the poet might well have enjoyed being pampered by his old mum, but William the Bloody was not the sort to put up with it. Spike’s whole persona was created as a reaction against his Williamness, and, especially given the unfortunate incident with his mother, I cannot believe that he would have wanted Dru, or anyone else, to mother him as a vampire for one minute. In fact I reckon Spike’s fondness for women who treat him like dirt has its origin in him not wanting to ever have a hint of being mothered. Given how vocally he complains about any pain it is otherwise quite astonishing that he doesn’t prefer his women to baby him, but he clearly doesn’t. Buffy could beat him up in Dead Things and he was urging her on, happy to let her work out her issues on him. The first sign of fussing from Dawn in Tough Love and he is dismissing his bruises as nothing much. This is not a man who would hang around Dru if all she wanted was to mother him.
So what is left? Bizarrely, the only thing seems to be what Angelus originally suggested – a playmate. And certainly the image of games and play is used a lot between them.
- to Angelus We’ll feed. Grrr. turns to Spike And we’ll play.
- Shall we tie her up? licks her finger Play with her a teensy bit first.
- pensively, looking at Buffy I’m through playing.
- Not nice to change the game in mid-play, Spike. You’ve taken my chair and the music hasn’t stopped.
- Think of it as a game. A fun, funny game.
And clearly Spike made a good playmate – she stayed with him for over a hundred years, always surprising him, always taking him to new depths (Crush). But why William? What did he have that would make him such a good playmate for someone like Dru?
- Oh, I see you. A man surrounded by fools who cannot see his strength, his vision, his glory. pause That and burning baby fish swimming all around your head.
- Spike backs away from her, nervous.
- That’s quite close enough. I’ve heard tales of London pickpockets. You’ll not be getting my purse, I tell you.
- smiles Don’t need a purse. Your wealth lies here… She points to his heart. and here. She points to his head. In the spirit and imagination. You walk in worlds the others can’t begin to imagine.
His imagination – the imagination of a frustrated poet. He might not be able to string the words together properly but he was clearly bubbling over with ideas. He wasn’t as strong as Angelus, and nor did he have the obsessive personality that would make him as addicted to cruelty, but then he was never meant to be in competition with her Daddy as far as Dru was concerned. What he had instead was the imagination to become an inventive playmate. Someone who could sing her songs with her and dance her dances. Someone she could pass eternity with and not get bored. Someone who enjoyed the rush and the crunch. Someone who could play.
This is why for me the brother-sister metaphor works far better than any idea of mother-son. (Setting aside my own not inconsiderable prejudices, of course.) The Fanged Four is a metaphor for a family. Father Angelus, (evil) step-mother Darla and brother and sister Spike and Dru. Now, narratively speaking, in a family you only have one dominant and sexually active couple. Any other combination is a collection of adults, not a ’family’. So in the FF that is clearly Angelus and Darla, which leaves Spike and Dru as the children. Vampire fiction being vampire fiction they can of course be sexually active too, incest not being the tedious taboo it is in normal life, but they can never be ’adults’. Dru can’t be Spike’s ’wife’ or ’mother’ or the narrative family breaks down, because the second Dru acts as his mature equal or elder then not only does Angelus become the ‘grandfather’, which is an entirely different role, but the Angelus/Darla dynamic also has to change since if Spike and Dru are the sexually active couple then Angelus and Darla have to become the superannuated wisdom source (the only narrative role for grandparents). The role of wisdom provider does not sit comfortably with my idea of Darla. I don’t think it sits comfortably with Darla’s idea of Darla.
- His head’s too full of you, grandmother.
- Stop calling me that.
Dru didn’t need a lover – she had Angelus. She didn’t need a protector – she had Angelus. She didn’t even need a friend – she had Darla. What Dru wanted was what Angelus told her to find – a playmate. Because what Dru wanted was a brother.
Ultimately though, I have learnt over the years that when it comes to the Aurelians you can’t just use logic. If you look at it rationally there is no sensible reason why they stayed together. Angelus and Darla fought and betrayed one another and yet still kept returning to each other. Angelus neglected Dru and abandoned her yet she never stopped wanting him back. Darla was clearly exasperated by Spike yet she let him hang around for a minimum of two years after Angelus left. Darla hated being stuck in the dark with the Master, and she was clearly afraid of him, yet she kept going back. Spike was cheated out of Dru by Angelus, and fought with him, yet still hero worshipped him. Angelus belittled Spike yet he let him hang around.
Quite frequently I get the impression that most of the Aurelians outright disliked the others. There is no clear cut logic to this there is only one simple fact – family. The best and strongest portrayal of a genuine family the Jossverse has.
Gotta love them.