A thin evening breeze blows through the empty window frame, ruffling the white dustsheet that covers the battered couch where Darla sits. Face as still and poised as the inky night as she admires the 'view' -- some multi-storey car park across the deserted midnight street -- a towering concrete monstrosity that blocks out the sky and the stars. Civilisation cemented in mortar and brick and she'd had such lofty dreams of fire engulfing it all, making the sky glow blood red.
Dreams made redundant, along with her high hopes for Angel. That boy had spent so long masquerading as a human that he'd started to believe his own delusions. Such a mortal man after all, making her feel like a victim. All through her lives she'd been the one to state the terms, always the arch manipulator, and never the exploited one. Ironic that he'd used her as ruthlessly as she would have him. And if she was feeling charitable, she could almost commend him on it.
For all her self-denial, she'd wanted him back. They both knew it. Angel always was a seductive itch that she could never resist scratching. A small part of her -- enough -- had believed that he wanted it too. She'd meant to kill him, not fuck him, but when she'd seen the brutal darkness in him -- darkness and heady despair all around him -- and the sheer violence in his eyes. . . Thrown against the wall, his mouth bruising her lips, smearing her lipstick, his iron grip searing her skin, she'd truly believed her darling boy had come back to her.
With a bitter smile, she turns the ancient ring over in her hand. Payment for services rendered. A useless piece of scrap metal now. She doesn't know why she kept it, except that it serves as a valuable reminder of her own spectacular gullibility. She considers putting it on a chain and wearing it around her neck, wearing his final betrayal next to her unbeating heart. Suitably poetic, she thinks.
A half-breath, half-sigh escapes her lips as she takes in the room with idle distaste. That she should be reduced to *this* again. No view, no décor, no furniture to speak of. Just a detestably modest single room in a crumbling, abandoned building. She cannot abide slumming it so but they have no choice, she and Dru. Dust and cobwebs everywhere but how they delight her love.
The sole window had been boarded when they'd arrived, sunrise chasing their heels, shards of orange and yellow seeping through the cracks. They'd hurried to the adjacent room -- a closet, actually -- and slumped together in the haven of darkness and sleep, limbs hooked instinctively around one another in the cramped space.
When darkness fell, Darla had torn down the boards covering the window. Now she wishes she'd left them up, wishes she could slip into the sanctuary of fantasy like Drusilla in her madness. But she has always been practical. She arches one eyebrow in contemplation. Curtains would be a nice, a few homely touches here and there, and this place could be a lot more palatable. Not the style and refinement she's accustomed to, but certainly less offensive. If she's forced to remain in hiding then the least she can do is make the place look presentable.
Keeping a low profile goes against the very grain of her nature but it's a necessity for now. She doesn't doubt for a second that Angel means what he said -- cross paths again and one of them would be dust. The odds aren't exactly stacked in her favour. Not to mention that she and Dru take pride of place on Wolfram & Hart's most wanted list. It won't take those resourceful lawyers long to find them, of that she's sure. Lindsey can't protect them now and she knows that he nurses his own bitter grievances. Which leaves Lilah and her painfully apparent grudge. No, that one isn't going to help them either.
Certainly, Darla knows that LA isn't safe for them anymore. No telling what a town without pity could do. Maybe they could lose themselves in another city. A place where they would be treated with the respect they so rightly deserve. She yearns for Europe, the decadent elegance of Paris, the melancholy of Prague, beautiful, corrupt Venice. The old haunts of Berlin, Vienna, Rome. . . Almost worth the great risk of travel. For all the advances in technology and speed, it's vastly more difficult for the modern vampire to travel internationally than it ever was in the past. Air flight is near impossible. One can't stow away on a ship nowadays, with vessels rigorously searched for illegal immigrants. Even if one boards a ship legitimately, some kind of passport is required thanks to tightly regulated border controls. Automobile travel has its limitations, as does passage by rail. There is simply no sure way of guarding against sunlight. Still, there's something terribly appealing about the thought of her and her girl starting afresh, taking a grand tour of the Old World. The sheer audacity of it, almost worth the trouble of making travel arrangements.
As she muses on this, her gaze shifts to the corner where Dru has been sitting for hours, petting her doll's hair and cooing softly. She's become used to Dru's nonsensical ramblings -- background noise that she's able to shut out for the most part. And she finds Dru's twisted nursery rhymes almost comforting. Vampires, like humans, are not solitary creatures. They crave the company of their own kind, whether it be in pairs, packs or hierarchical brethren. Even Angel with his filthy soul, so ashamed of what he is, doesn't want to spend eternity alone.
Dru had sought her out, not two days after Darla had abandoned Lindsey's apartment, keening about how "the little lamb's lost his way and won't follow anymore." Darla assumed that meant that Spike had turned Dru down. Something Darla is hardly disappointed by. She can happily do without that boy's posturing and impudence, and besides, she isn't keen on sharing her girl with anyone.
Dru glances up, swaying slightly as she sits cross-legged on he floor. That's when Darla notices her properly, the satin dress hanging off one shoulder, pretending to suckle the doll at her bared breast.
"What are you doing?" Darla asks, her voice schooled to bemused tolerance, yet aware of the perverse flutter of arousal in the pit of her stomach.
Dru smiles, teeth gleaming in the semi-darkness. "The baby's hungry. I can hear her tummy rumble. She wants sugar and spice and all things nice."
Humouring her, Darla rolls her eyes. There was a time when Dru's particular. . . quirks irritated her. There was a time when she resented Angelus' irresponsibility, detested the crude game, the ultimate blasphemy that turned a pitiful girl into a raving lunatic. Things are different now. Dru saved Darla from herself, from the disease of humanity. For that she can only be eternally grateful. Locked together now -- in the endless complexity of sire, child, and lover -- they have only each other.
A smile touches Darla's lips as she watches her girl. "The baby must be tired, Dru. She needs her sleep." Besides, Darla wants to play.
Faint rustle of fabric as Dru rises from the corner, a distant look in her eyes as she slowly approaches the couch. She cradles the doll loosely in her arms and the moonlight bathes her flawless skin in pure whiteness. Salvation in satin and silk.
Darla's voice, when she finds it, is breathless. "Come here, my love."
Without question, Dru complies, the doll slipping from her hands and onto the bare floorboards. There's a knowing smile on her face, making Darla think that her girl is far more aware than she cares to let on. Yes, Dru plays hide and seek from the world but she watches and understands. More fool the rest of us for thinking her an imbecile.
When Dru is within an inch of her grasp Darla reaches up, drawing her down, the deceptive strength in that rake-thin frame yielding to her. Surrender, of sorts. A peal of laughter as Dru settles on her lap, and Darla smothers it with her mouth, tearing kisses with as much as force as she tears Dru's clothing.
She has no desire to think of the dangerous game they are involved in, or the players that scheme behind closed doors across the city. No thoughts of Angel, Lindsey or Spike or any of the other men who have been ensnared in their web over the centuries. Just her and her girl, mouth descending like cool silk against cooler skin.
Dru shifts, purrs almost, as she lowers herself to Darla's neck, pink tongue teasing her throat. Yes, right there. . . It soothes her for now, placates the hunger that grumbles low in the pit of her belly, and in the back of her mind. But later they'll feed -- find a couple of ignorant, beautiful boys, just like old times -- and then she'll ask Dru how she feels about Paris or maybe Berlin. Yes, a change of scenery would do them the world of good.