As she walked home, Olivia Crawley wondered what it was like, losing enough dignity to draw stockings on one’s legs. Although it probably wouldn’t be that difficult, she realised, considering one would almost certainly be walking around, as all women did these days, in a hideously mended skirt, or a blouse made from an old parachute.
Pathetic was what it was. Simply pathetic.
Even if it was nice to have proof, after all these years, that she was the one sensible woman in all London.
“Sorry!” A cheery call interrupted her thoughts.
Olivia frowned as a woman tried to pass her on the pavement, eventually dropping off the whitewashed curb onto the road. The stupid creature looked down, probably to check for drains, and Olivia smiled as she felt a gaze on her legs. The silk, she knew, would be looking lovely in the last of the evening’s light.
There was a moment of silence before the woman trotted off behind her, heels clacking with alternating timbres.
Yes, Olivia decided, women really had let themselves go since the beginning of the war. The one she had just passed proved it. The idiot was running now, making a racket with her ill-mended shoes, and probably causing her ‘stockings’ to smear. And all just because she’d seen Olivia’s packages, and thought the butcher might have some sausages in.
Silly girl. Mr. Jones (he liked her to call him Billy, but she preferred Mr. Jones because, after all, their relationship was only business) wasn’t going to have any more meat in until Tuesday, just like every other week. Still, Olivia couldn’t blame the woman for trying. She supposed it must be quite tiresome, getting up before the crack of dawn to stand in a queue for hours, with a rabble of other women. And just for the possibility of a few lamb chops!
It was quite quaint, really. Just like the rest of the rationing process.
Olivia wasn’t sure she understood rationing. It was all so very, very odd; the way the government decided what you could and could not have. But then, she didn’t understand why it was they who decided what you could and could not do. Not that she minded them sending Johnny out of the country, of course.
The way she saw it, everyone had certain… talents. And it was a person’s ability to exploit these talents that defined how far they would go in life. The government could do whatever they wanted; impose ‘rules’ and ‘rations’, try and help those who were less than able to get on in life; but it didn’t matter. It wouldn’t change anything. Those with ability would always go further and that was all there was to it.
Happy with that thought, Olivia found herself at home. She turned sedately off the street, still smiling, and walked up the immaculate steps to her front door. It was open by the time she reached it, and Gareth was there, ready to take the cut of beef from her arms.
“Hello, darling,” he said, kissing her.
She returned the kiss, but slapped his hand away as it moved around her waist. “Not now, Gareth. Let’s have dinner first.”
She put her bag down by the door, hung her coat and hat up, and headed into the kitchen. The green and white apron was hanging on the back of the door, as always, and she unhooked it, tossing it over her head.
“Don’t worry about that, Liv,” Gareth said. She paused, smiling to herself. “I’ll make the dinner.”
She turned, tucking a piece of painstakingly placed stray hair behind an ear. “You don’t have to do that, Gareth.”
“No, I want to.”
She gave him a sweet smile, and took off the apron. Standing close to him, she put a palm to his cheek and said, “Thank you.”
He didn’t respond, but stared at her red lipstick. She smiled again before stepping back, sweeping her hand down his chin.
As she found a chair by the kitchen table he coughed, once, put the apron around his neck and headed to the sideboard. She laughed to herself, and lit a cigarette.
Olivia watched, still amused, as he sorted out the meal. He was getting better at it; he didn’t burn his hand the way he’d managed to, the first time he’d offered.
It really was much more enjoyable to watch him cook than do it herself. Even though, she noticed with some annoyance, he was using some of the carrots from the back garden. The ones that Johnny had dug up her tulips for.
She had planned to let the vegetables rot, but, now, it seemed she would have to eat the wretched things. It was hardly as if she could say anything to Gareth. He was putting in so much effort, the poor man.
Frowning slightly, she continued her cigarette, and looked down at her nails.
Later, they had sat down at the dining table, and she had begun her effusive praise:
But there was a knock at the door.
Gareth looked up, white as a sheet. “You don’t think that’s…”
“Don’t be silly, Gareth,” Olivia replied, touching the corners of her lips with a napkin and moving her chair back. “I received a letter from John only yesterday. He isn’t due back for months yet.”
Gareth followed her into the hall, almost bouncing behind her shoulder. It irritated her.
Casting him a glance, she opened the front door, to reveal – a girl, dressed entirely in black. Olivia wasn’t too surprised; the girl had probably been to a funeral or some such. There were quite a few of those, these days.
“I’m looking for my auntie,” the girl said, looking up at Olivia with wide eyes.
“Well, you must have the wrong house.” Not to mention the wrong end of London. “Goodbye.”
“Wait, Liv, she looks freezing.” Olivia pulled the door back again, sighing. Gareth came to her side. He leaned down a little, and, affecting his voice with some vile tone, asked “What happened to you, then?”
The girl turned to him and tilted her head. “My William went away, just like Daddy.”
“Oh yes? Is your Daddy a soldier?”
She laughed in a way that Olivia didn’t think was entirely girlish. “Yes! A soldier! Left fields of beautiful bodies, he did.” The girl’s smile dropped. “Then the Angel-beast took him away from me…”
“The angel…? Oh no! Oh dear, how terrible! Oh… come in and have some food.” Gareth retreated from the doorway and pulled the door open further.
Olivia turned to him sharply. “What?”
“Liv, she’s half-starved!” His eyes were wide, making him look more like a puppy than usual.
She gave in. “Fine,” she said with a sigh, turning back to the girl. Hopefully, the sooner she was fed, the sooner she would be gone. “Come in.”
The girl looked at her. Olivia saw something dark and broken in her eyes, but refused to be affected.
“Thank you,” the girl replied, stepping forward.
London’s night was cold, black and empty. Barrage balloons were doing their best to block out the moonlight, and only the feeblest of glows came from lit streetlamps. Through the darkness, a bitter wind ran, howling as it curled around corners and into doorways.
For those few who were left outside, steadily losing their bodies’ warmth with each breath of steamy air, it felt as though their very souls were being taken from them.
Apart from those who had no souls to lose, that is.
Spike was smoking as he walked down the road, unaffected by the cold and the dark. He was in rather a good mood, and had reason to be. The man from the last train had been drunker than first appearances, for a start; the RAF greatcoat he’d nicked back in Dover was whisking nicely around his legs; and, most importantly, according to a Carezo demon in a Spanish bar, Drusilla was here. In London.
And he’d known, the moment he’d stepped off the train, that the demon had been right. It had made him almost grateful, though not at all sorry for sticking that cigarette down his ear.
He’d smelt it in the air, and it had made his nose itch pleasantly. Drusilla’s scent was something pure, something he could recognise above the stench of humanity, even in the smallest wisp. Back when he was still young, he’d always associated it with sherry, but it wasn’t until he’d gone to China, and walked across gingered earth, that he’d realised that that wasn’t nearly good enough.
The trail was thin at best, slicing through tobacco like a paper-cut, but with each step he took, it grew thicker, the hints in the air coalescing into a single current that swept him on. His pace had increased since his nonchalant exit of the station earlier, to the steady lope he was now moving with. He could feel the wind behind him, urging him forward, and he let it, dropping his spent cigarette to the ground.
The night drew on, and with it, Spike headed westward. Familiarity edged at the back of his mind as he ran through streets of tall buildings, but he ignored it, too immersed in the trail to care. Drusilla was rich in the air now, and the back of his neck tingled with anticipation.
Haring around a corner, suddenly, he came to a stop. He reigned in his breathing, and looked down the street in complete stillness. The tingling, at the back of his neck froze, and he walked sedately past a few houses to the only one whose front window wasn’t blacked-out. The flimsy net curtain, the only thing visible through the glass, shimmered minutely in the slight moonlight, but no light came from within.
He walked up the house’s steps, and pushed open the door. The hall was also unlit, but that didn’t matter to him; he could still make out the details. Music was coming from the next room: a scratchy jazz number. He closed the front door behind him and moved through, drawing in a breath.
It escaped him almost immediately. Drusilla was in the centre of the room, eyes closed and dancing. Her dark dress rippled around her and her curled hair bounced lightly on her shoulders. He stepped forward, feeling the carpet fibres crush beneath his feet.
The music went to static, and Drusilla opened her eyes, seemingly ignoring him as she went to turn the record over. Placing the needle down, she finally looked at him, holding out a hand. He took it, reverently, and brought them back to the centre of the room.
“My Spike’s come home,” she giggled in his ear as he rocked them.
“That’s right, pet,” he replied, brushing his cheek across her hair.
“And he’s been naughty.” She walked her fingers up from his collar, sending shivers down his spine. “Been pulling the wings off butterflies.” Twirling some hair in her fingers, she added, “And fishies.” After a final twirl, she pulled sharply, and he let his head rock back, grinning. She stroked the spot on his neck with her nails for a moment, before moving her hand back to his shoulder. He brought his head forward again, still stepping them around the room.
The music continued, and his eyes soon started to drift closed. He looked around the room with hooded lids, and caught sight of the settee, eyes flicking open for a moment. They had an audience.
He smirked at the shocked, vacant gazes of the corpses and almost relaxed, before realising, suddenly, that they were quite heavily decomposed. Frowning, he wondered why on earth he hadn’t noticed the smell before, the one that was now coiling up his nose and down his throat.
The answer, of course, was in his arms. But that didn’t mean he could block the smell out now that it was there.
She cut him off with a hiss, stopping still and looking over his shoulder.
“What is it?” He let go of her hand, complaint forgotten, and turned to stand at her side. Following her gaze, he looked out of the window, through the gap above the net curtains. The blackout curtains, in the upstairs window of the opposite house, were twitching, almost imperceptibly. Someone was moving around.
At Spike’s side, Drusilla moaned, drawing her hands up to her head and rubbing.
“Oh! He makes my head hurt, Spike.” He moved to block her view, and brought his fingers up to either side of her closed eyes. She flickered them open, and looked at him. “Kill him. Kill him for me.”
“Of course, pet, of course.” Agreeing to anything she wanted was automatic for him. It wasn’t as though one bloke would cause a problem, anyway. “But tomorrow, yeah?” He leaned in, and gently scraped his teeth up the side of her ear. “You haven’t shown me the rest of the house yet.”
Her mouth broadened to a small smile, and she took his hand, leading him out of the room. He followed willingly and closed the door on most of the smell behind him, promising himself that he would get rid of the bodies tomorrow.
Spike awoke and stretched languidly, sliding down the sheets. Smiling, he opened his eyes and looked at the white ceiling.
With a jolt, he realised that he was alone. Drusilla was gone.
He rolled to his feet, throwing the covers to the floor, irrationally hoping that he had merely missed her. After standing for a moment, he rushed out of the bedroom and began searching the house.
It was on his second time through, standing naked in the room where they had danced, before a now-empty settee, that he realised something else. He couldn’t smell her anymore. There was nothing about the room except for the old, underlying scent of its previous owners and the leftover putridity from their corpses.
It had to be a spell. He knew it could be done. Darla had masked them all from Angelus, back before she’d run off to join the Master again. He’d thought the idea was ridiculous at the time, never really comprehending the idea of Angelus with a soul. That was before that business on the bloody submarine. He was still annoyed about that. Never mind that it was months ago now.
He walked over to the window, bringing his face close to the net curtains, checking outside just in case Drusilla was there, realising the idea of her doing this to him was wrong and coming back to fix it.
She wasn’t though. He couldn’t really be surprised: Drusilla was as stubborn as she was fickle. He would have to see this through. Presumably, she was especially keen on him killing this person, for some reason or another.
He looked over to the other house, and, as luck would have it, a man was entering it at that moment. Spike watched as the man opened the door and then proceeded to drop his keys, failing to hold them at the same time as a briefcase and a crutch. He was a pathetic figure, and seemed to be missing the bottom half of his left leg. Spike sneered at him for a moment, before turning and heading back upstairs.
Minutes later he was dressed and out the door, transforming, as he walked, into the nervous Flight Lieutenant that had, before he’d been eaten, owned the RAF uniform Spike now wore.
Scratching the back of his neck, Spike rapped on the door with the knocker. He listened for the inevitable scuffling, and, as the door opened, turned to go, his face a mask of self-deprecation.
Spike turned back. “Oh, hello! I, erm, wasn’t sure that anyone was in.”
“May I help you?” Spike looked at the man more closely. There was a shrewd look in his eyes and, despite his missing leg, he stood fully upright, back perfectly straight. Not as pathetic as he’d first presumed, then.
“Oh yes, I’m sorry. How dreadfully rude of me! My name’s Parsons – Gregory Parsons – and I was wondering if I might use your telephone? I’ve just got back, you see, and it turns out that my house has been rather, well, flattened. I’ve been trying to get hold of my parents and my sister, but, well, the lady in the housing office could only give me a number…”
The man stepped back slightly, bringing his right hand forward. Spike continued, hoping a more verbal invitation would come, just to shut him up, “I would use a booth, of course, but would you believe it that I haven’t got a dashed penny on me? Not a single one!”
The man stepped back further, sweeping his arm across his body. Spike looked at him, and the man looked back, silently, a shard of something in his eyes and slight smile starting on his lips. The game was over. Spike narrowed his own eyes, and his hand itched to reach forward and grab the man’s throat. But he knew the humiliation wouldn’t be worth it.
“You just wait, mate,” he said, his voice curling back to his favoured accent. “You just bloody wait.”
There was silence for a moment, before the man said, “Well, goodbye then.” And shut the door in his face.
Spike spun away and leaped down the doorsteps, frustration slicing through him. All pretence of nervousness was gone, and he began stalking down the pavement. Anger clouded his mind and his vision, and it was only after a shout that he realised he had walked into the joined hands of two teenagers. He looked up at the boy’s indignant face. Without a word, he grabbed the boy’s head, along with the girl’s, and smashed them together, quick and hard. Jarring pains ran up his arm, quieting the frustration.
The bodies he held were limp now, apart from the single jerk of the girl’s arm. He tossed them to the road, not in the mood for their saccharine blood, tainted, as it would be, with puppy love. He wanted something more astringent. Some crusty old git, maybe, who tasted like real ale.
Slower than before, he set off again, pulling his cigarette case from inside his coat.
When he returned to the house, Spike was both too tired and too drunk to remake the bed. He settled on the floor instead, cocooning himself in a mess of sheets and quilt. He couldn’t get comfortable, however, and, after some half-hearted searching, realised that it was because he had been lying on the arm of one of Drusilla’s dolls.
He held the doll in front of him, up towards the ceiling. It wasn’t Miss Edith, Drusilla’s favourite, but one of the others. The red-haired one. The one he’d bought for her in India, about thirty years ago. Miss Tabitha.
He set the doll down, unable to prevent himself from drawing its hair past his nose. It didn’t smell of anything. It was thirty years old, but it had been wiped clean for him, just like everything else.
Spike burrowed further into the covers and the floor, turning his back to the doll.
On each day that followed, Spike sat by the window in the front room, Miss Tabitha at his side, watching as the man entered his West-facing house a few minutes before dusk. It annoyed him, moreso with each passing day, to watch the man hobble along, covered by just enough sunlight to protect him.
Spike was pretty certain that he had killed enough people to fill a small cemetery by now, and drunk enough to send the same number comatose, but it had done nothing to quell his frustration.
After a week, however, the weather turned overcast, with thick, bulbous clouds blanketing the sky. That, according to the long-ago teachings of Angelus (bastard), meant that he could have a few more minutes out of the shade before he went up like a bonfire. It wasn’t much, and vampires rarely bothered with the advantage. But it was enough for him.
The man came home the same time as ever. As soon as Spike caught sight of him, he ran out of the house, escaping the unmarked shade and reaching his hands towards the man.
A suitcase hit him across the side of the face. And burned.
Spike fell to the ground, surprise causing his feet to tangle beneath him. A weight, the man, was suddenly on his chest and the burning suitcase was back on his face. He howled, eyes fixed on the briefcase’s name plaque, not really processing the J. M. Cr- that was visible to him.
A tingling started in his hands suddenly, chiming through the pain in his face. Delayed reactions kicked in as the sensation became more acute, and he began to kick and claw rabidly at the figure above him. Panic rose as the tingling turned to pain, until, with a chance roll, he came free.
His hands ignited, and he fled into his own kitchen. The taps sputtered, and an unwanted tear came to his eye, running saltwater across his charred skin. Finally, water came gushing out, and Spike doused his hands, but only until the flames were out.
Refusing to think about the pain he was in, he ran back outside, gasping as he opened the door with his raw hands.
“No!” The growl escaped him as he saw the man, Mr. J. M. Cr-, stagger the final step inside his house. His eyes were drawn to the iron cross, nailed to the bottom of the briefcase. Even as the door shut, and the throbbing in his hands and face grew more unbearable, he couldn’t move his eyes.
The bloody bastard was a Watcher.
Spike blew on each of his hands, and shook his shoulders. A lot of pain was in the mind, and he would suppress it.
Forgetting the front door, he walked off up the road, skirting close to East-facing houses. He was heading for the Old Marylebone Road, which he knew (after a bit of clandestine research on Slayers back in the day) was where the Council lay.
Everyone he passed, he forced his teeth into, pulling a bit of blood before throwing them to the road for a ‘accidental’ death. Finally, he found what he was looking for, one of the one-in-ten people with magical aptitude. The raw power in the man’s blood would heal him better than the ordinary – and it tasted better.
He was too angry to savour the flavour, however, and quickly threw the body into an alley.
The sun, he could tell, had set properly now, and he crossed the road to the Council building without fear. The lock on the front door was large and rusty. Spike pulled a couple of badges from his uniform, bent the pins into a couple of lock picks and set to work. His burnt hands were clumsy, but after a couple of minutes, something clicked, and he opened the door, tossing two fingers to the PROPVGNATE CONSILIO CORDATO carved above.
The reception hall was more like that of a manor than of an office. Doors led off from the sides, and two winding staircases furled upwards to a mutual landing. Portraits adorned the walls, though most of them looked exactly the same to Spike.
Glancing at the doors on the ground floor, he realised that they were all to libraries, and so he headed up the stairs, taking them two at a time and smearing wet grime on the green carpet. The first door he came to said ‘Board Room’. He ignored it and looked at the offices to the sides, reading the plaques for ‘Mr. Cr-’.
After rejecting Crowley and Crowe, he found the correct initials on the door of a Mr. Crawley. He entered the office, closed the door, and collapsed on the heavy chair with a curse. Now all he had to do was wait until morning. Then this would be over.
Ten minutes later, Spike was bored. He wished he’d brought Miss Tabitha with him. She wasn’t such bad company these days.
Spike paused for a moment, wondering over what he’d just thought.
Sneering at himself, he looked around the desk again. The drawers were locked, and probably didn’t contain anything interesting anyway. All that was left on top were a couple of photographs and some books.
He looked at the photographs first. As he’d discovered a few minutes earlier, one was of a slightly younger looking Mr. Crawley, in an army uniform, still possessing a left leg; and the other was of him, younger still, standing, with a beautiful, oval-faced woman (who Spike hated on sight), next to a wedding cake.
With nothing better to do, Spike opened the frames. The wedding one had nothing written on it, but the other had a single line of pencilled copperplate, reading “Major John Matthew Crawley, 1943”. It had to be quite recent, then, no matter that he looked quite a bit older now.
Mildly satisfied that he now had a name, Spike left the photographs and moved onto the books. The one on top of the pile was entitled ‘Scions of Aurelius’, which interested him slightly. Pulling the book down to the front of the desk, he flicked open the marking ribbon, and was only vaguely surprised to see a sketch of himself and Drusilla.
He placed a hand on the page, and managed to read William the Bloody, also –, before everything went dark.
He knew he was somewhere else immediately; the wood smoke scent of the office was gone, replaced by something dank.
He reached out his arms and abruptly came into contact with walls on either side. He started to turn, feeling his way around himself, and realised that he was in some sort of cell, with stone on three sides and wood on the other. Apparently, the Council didn’t like anyone, apart from themselves, reading their books.
“BUGGER!” he yelled, punching what was obviously the door. It cracked slightly, which surprised him, moreso than the pain in his hand. It looked like the Watchers were only trying to ward against witches. Not angry vampires.
He laughed, and as it echoed around him, he realised that he was sounding slightly unnerved. He shrugged, and brought his foot up to the door, pushing himself against the back wall.
A few solid kicks later, it was open, and he headed out, taking himself towards fresh air.
Luckily, it seemed that he was still in London.
Spike stood on the pavement, breathing into the night. Suddenly, without reason, his anger fled and a wave of something else came over him. A couple of tears sprang to his eyes, and he furiously wiped them away, glad of the dark.
He realised now just how bloody sick of it all he was. He wanted Drusilla back. This last week, without her, and the months before it had just been so… pointless. He was lost on his own.
And he hated this Crawley bloke. He really hated him.
Spike spent the rest of the night sitting on the curb, staring into the darkness.
Further days passed, and Spike healed, watching the house opposite.
“So, Tabs, d’you reckon Johnny-boy likes the milk-girl, or just wants a shag to go with his gold top?
“Yeah, I know. Too bloody repressed and all.”
One night, there was an air raid. Spike, unable to care if he was blown up or not, sat in his usual place in the living room, just listening, with a bottle of scotch. Miss Tabitha was also listening; face stern and impassive as ever.
The bombs didn’t seem to be that far away, and Spike knew that if Drusilla were still with him, they’d be out in the streets, hoping to find a house that would collapse before their very eyes. He wouldn’t be worried, because he’d feel the way he always did with Drusilla on his arm. Invincible.
That thought just depressed him further.
The raid continued, and it seemed to be getting closer. Spike wasn’t sure if that wasn’t just his ears becoming more sensitive.
There was a whistling, and Spike watched, fascinated, as the house next to Crawley’s collapsed to the ground, pulling some of the enjoined houses with it.
He didn’t move for a while, but as the ‘all clear’ sounded, a smile grew on his face.
“When is a house not a house?” he muttered, standing up and still staring out of the window.
A burst of energy pulsed through him suddenly and he moved to the front door. As he threw it open, he howled, “When half of it’s blown to bloody smithereens!”
Spike found Crawley in the master bedroom; the only complete room left upstairs. He was standing at the foot of the bed, back turned away from the door.
“Go on then,” he said, not turning around.
“What?” Spike stopped by a chest of drawers.
“The moment the house went, I knew it was lost. So you can get on with it.” Crawley turned now, back straight, and immobile except for the tiniest quiver around his eyes.
“You’re just going to stand there.” Spike couldn’t believe that this was going to end so anticlimactically.
His eagerness, in a moment, changed to frustration. He picked up an ornament and threw it against the wall, growling angrily. Crawley didn’t even flinch, which made him feel it even more.
“What the bloody hell for?” he shouted.
“Would you really like to know?” The question was asked dryly, in the low, slow voice Crawley seemed to have affected. Spike’s jaw clenched.
“You see, this is why nobody kills Watchers.” Annoyance forced his thoughts out of his mouth, and Spike started to pace. “You’d think it was ‘cause they’re all scary and cross-bearing, but no. It’s because they’re so sodding boring!” He glared at Crawley, raising a finger and his voice, trying to get a reaction. “You don’t scream, you don’t wriggle, there’s barely any fear in your blood! Do you have any idea how bland blood is without fear?”
“I’m sorry we’re such a nuisance.”
“Oh, shut your bleeding trap! You know, if Dru didn’t want you dead…”
“Ah. So you really are just doing this on the whim of Drusilla. I thought perhaps that there was some motive of your own, but it looks as though my suspicions are correct.”
“Suspicions?” Spike’s anger was growing with each word that Crawley spoke, though, for some reason, he didn’t want to kill him. Yet.
“As to why Drusilla couldn’t kill me herself. And why she most desperately wanted to.”
Spike laughed, and it came out like chips of ice. “Dru does whatever she likes, mate. She very rarely has a reason.”
“Yes. Well, I must say, she has you fairly well under her thumb, doesn’t she?”
That pushed him over the edge. He stepped forward, no qualms about murdering the bastard in front of him. But the small smile on Crawley’s face made him stop.
Spike would not let him win this.
Stepping back, he lit a cigarette, fingers shaking with fury and a slight nervousness that he couldn’t explain. He waited for the man to continue, as he knew he would, once the clear disappointment passed.
“I don’t presume Drusilla told you anything about me, before she sent you off as her attack dog?” Crawley asked; small, sardonic smile still on his face.
Spike took another drag.
“No. She wouldn’t, would she?” Spike refused to be goaded though he was swearing blind inside, and Crawley sighed resignedly. “Right. I believe you’ve seen my wife?” He glanced behind himself quickly, back to the bed, dropping his voice back to the low murmur. “You made quite a mess, by the way.” Spike stared at the man, pointedly tapping some ash onto the floor. Crawley sighed. “Yes, well. Olivia, my wife, had always been the society beauty. Understandably, she was admired by everyone. However, it was I who, somehow, had the fortune to be married to her.” The ironic tone became stronger. “I gave thanks every day.”
Spike snorted. “Yeah. But now she’s gone, you’ll just have it off with the milkmaid.”
Something flickered in Crawley’s eye. “I suppose you are referring to Jane,” he snapped, before pulling back to the slower pace of before. “Yes. I’d forgotten that you’ve had nothing better to do these last couple of weeks than watch my every move.”
Spike snarled, and felt another flicker of anger, but said nothing.
“As I was saying,” he continued, ignoring Spike’s reaction, “I was married to Olivia, whom I loved. And when I say ‘loved’, I mean with unrelenting adoration and ridiculous self-abandonment,” Crawley spat the words out, “catering to her every whim and desire.” He smiled slightly, again. “The same way you ‘love’ your Drusilla, whom, incidentally, my wife was killed by.”
Tearing the cigarette out of his own mouth, Spike shot back dangerously, “Don’t compare yourself to me. If Dru died…” He narrowed his eyes, condemning the man in front of him.
“You would what?” Crawley seemed unconcerned, still rigidly straight-backed. “Shatter into a thousand pieces? Tear your own heart out because it would hurt too much?” There was something angry and painful in his eyes, and Spike realised, in an instant, that Crawley had loved his wife, no matter what he said. “Live your life alone and broken, forever mourning her death?” Crawley gave a short laugh. “Perhaps we are quite similar, after all.” He looked at Spike speculatively. “I thought that Drusilla was merely being insane when she said as much, but perhaps there is some truth in it.”
“Similar?” Spike asked, exhaling cigarette smoke as he frowned.
“Oh yes.” Crawley smiled wryly. “It was the reason why she decided that she couldn’t kill me herself. Well. That and her fear.”
“What the bloody hell are you talking about?” Spike’s frown grew. The urge to kill was coming back quickly.
“It’s quite ridiculous, really.” Crawley continued to laugh, dark and soft, ignoring Spike’s question. “You enjoy killing things and were taught by Angelus; I enjoy Keats and went to Balliol.”
Spike choked on his smoke, and coughed.
It was a coincidence. It had to be.
“Yeah,” he replied slowly, trying to keep his voice level, dropping his eyes to the rug on the floor before raising them to a blacked-out window. “Well, Dru, you know? Mad as a hatter.”
“Ah, yes. Drusilla. That’s an interesting thought.” Spike snapped back to Crawley’s face, annoyed by his irreverent tone. “She separated herself from you by choice, I imagine?”
Spike said nothing, pushing his anger out through his foot as he ground his cigarette end into the carpet.
Crawley nodded. “And while you are, no doubt, suffering from the separation, I wonder whether she is feeling the same.” He looked at Spike, contempt in his eyes. “Or whether she feels nothing, and has seen fit to replace you, in your absence.”
It wasn’t true. Spike knew that. Crawley knew nothing about Drusilla and him apart from what he’d read in books. He was talking about his own feelings, and his tart of a wife. That much was obvious.
Still, it was galling. Especially since, if he killed the git, Crawley would just think that he’d won.
“I suppose you think that it doesn’t matter,” he continued relentlessly, “It’s you she loves, after all.”
Spike noticed that the covers on the bed were new. The colours were rich and crisp, at odds with the lived-in appearance of the rest of the room.
“Of course, every time you say you love her, she changes the subject. But that doesn’t matter. She still calls you her love, and that’s the exact same admission.”
Spike clenched his fists. The man’s incessant rambling was starting to get to him. Crawley was trying to sound biting, but had no idea what he was talking about. It was annoying.
“And even if you were to accept that she doesn’t love you – not the way you love her anyway – you still wouldn’t think it mattered. You would still love her. She would still be the reason for your existence.”
Spike growled, “You know nothing…”
Crawley laughed, cutting him off. “You really believe that?” The man shook his head, still laughing. Spike wondered how exactly he should kill him. “I honestly don’t understand why Drusilla was so afraid of me telling you!”
Snapping his neck would be too quick.
“Or maybe she was simply afraid of the truth.” Crawley’s mirth was gone now, and he had the speculative gleam in his eye again. Spike wondered about ripping it out, and his hand clenched at his side in preparation. “Yes. That must be it. How interesting.”
“What is interesting?” Spike asked without meaning to, fury pushing him forward to the balls of his feet.
“Do you know how you’re going to feel when Drusilla leaves you? Do you know what’s going to be underneath the grief and hurt, small but very, very real?”
Crawley paused, just smiling.
A moment passed, and then Spike ripped his throat out.