Three nights had passed in complete darkness. Despite his relatively new life status, he had learned enough already to be able to tell that much. He had come to the conclusion that the room was perfectly square: twelve paces by twelve paces. Not a single object disrupted the stark severity of the chamber. Judging by the echoes of his footfalls on the floor, he was standing on solid stone. He sat directly across from the door he had been thrown through at the beginning of his imprisonment. It had no doorknob or handle on this side, and all of his attempts at breaking through it had been useless.
William ran his fingers through his now unkempt brown hair in frustration. A very understated deduction formed in his mind: Angelus was not a nice person. This was followed by yet another discovery: William had acquired a very strong dislike of his grandsire.
His unlife had seemed to start out on a friendly enough basis three weeks ago. After he'd risen from his grave and been escorted by Drusilla to the home that she shared with Angelus and Darla, he'd received a fairly warm reception. The massive vampire had been pleased that Drusilla finally had something to keep her occupied, and Darla, although she reminded him unpleasantly of the snobbish society ladies who had treated him like pond scum simply because of his social class, had been at least technically polite. However, things took a very negative turn once a few problems began to arise.
After only a couple of days, the fact that Drusilla was too insane to be able to effectively train William as a vampire was painfully obvious. This meant that the responsibility passed on to Angelus. For all intents and purposes, he was now William's sire by default. The Irishman hadn't been too thrilled by the prospect of suddenly being saddled with another childe.
Another problem was William's strange lack of enthusiasm for the hunt. He had proven adequately bloodthirsty when it came to draining criminals, but he simply couldn't seem to stomach killing the weak and innocent. Darla was scandalized by this deviant behavior and openly remarked that he was a disgrace to her bloodline and should be staked before anyone found out about him. Once again, it seemed as though William was unable to fit into proper society.
However, the last straw had been the glove. Angelus was deeply possessive of what belonged to him, and that included Drusilla. She was his childe, his pet project, and, unfortunately, his paramour, as William so delicately put it. In spite of this, the fledgling had fallen head over heels in love with the dark-haired girl. He had never tried to woo her away from Angelus, nor had he ever spoken a single word of his feelings to her, but his pale blue eyes spoke volumes as he longingly watched her dance from room to room, listening to music only she could hear.
One night, his romantic heart got the better of him. Drusilla had left one of her black silk gloves lying on the entry hall table. The soft fabric shimmered in the candlelight, hypnotizing the young man. Where its mate had gotten to heaven only knew. Looking carefully around to be sure he was alone, William picked it up with something akin to reverence.
"Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand," he had murmured quietly. Gently, almost as though he was afraid of breaking a spell, he raised it to his lips. The scent of violets and something he could only identify as starlight overwhelmed him as he pressed a tender kiss to the glove's palm, never daring to believe he would ever do the same to the hand it had once encased. Then, he had carefully tucked it inside his jacket, as close to his heart as possible.
Unfortunately, his secret treasure didn't remain a secret for very long. The glove had fallen out of his coat during one of his training sessions with Angelus only a few days later. He could still see the demonic fury that possessed the older vampire's eyes when the glove landed with an unceremonious plop on his right shoe.
"What have we here, my boy?" he'd asked in a deadly tone. "That wouldna be belongin' to ya, now would it?"
"Um, n-no," he'd stammered in response.
"I didna think so," he'd replied as he picked it up and sniffed the telltale scent of Drusilla's perfume. "And the hand it belongs on, that does na belong to ya, either. That would be my property. Ya don't go stealin' from yer elders, childe. Tisn't polite."
The next thing William remembered was incredible pain. After Angelus had pummeled him until his knuckles bled, he'd tied up the younger vampire and proceeded to repeatedly drive over him with a carriage drawn by six horses. Once he grew bored with that pastime, he dragged his errant grandchilde home face downwards over the rough cobblestone streets, threw him into the unused storage room in the basement, locked the door, and went upstairs to read the paper.
Almost all of William's injuries had healed by now, a fact that still absolutely amazed him. None of the other vampires had bothered to mention that particular side effect of being undead. His worst current torture was starvation. Not one drop of food had passed down his throat for days, and he was almost beside himself with hunger. If he didn't feed soon… well, he wasn't sure what would happen, but it couldn't be good.
Without any warning, the door to his prison was abruptly thrown open. The light pouring in from the hallway almost blinded him. Weak as he was, he still attempted to throw himself towards the open doorway, but the large black boot of the older vampire quickly stopped him. It took him a moment to realize he wasn't alone.
"And you'll be stayin' here until ya remember yer manners, girl!" he shouted in fury as he flung the petite form of William's true sire into the room as well. "As fer you, boy, dinna even think o' touchin' her, or you'll get worse from me than before!"
"Daddy! Please don't leave me in the dark!"
"Ya shoulda thought o' that afore ya decided to defy me."
"Please," she pleaded in tones that would have moved stones to tears. "You know how the dark frightens me! At least let me have Miss Edith!"
"Drusilla, ya will be lucky if Darla hasn't dropped yer bloody doll in the Thames already. And if ya don't stop that caterwauling, I'll be after doin' it meself!"
The door slammed shut with a clang that sounded like Judgment Day, leaving the hysterical woman shrieking in the darkness.
A fire erupted in William's heart, white-hot anger pouring out towards anyone who would be so cruel as to hurt his beloved. It was perfectly obvious to anyone that she was a bit… unstable, and treating her so harshly was barbaric. He suddenly didn't care what Angelus or Darla decided to do to him.
"Drusilla," he asked in his gentlest tones, "are you alright?"
The question silenced her wracking sobs for a moment.
"Well, obviously, you're not. That was stupid of me." He cursed himself for his idiocy.
"William? Where are you? I can't see your pretty blue eyes."
In spite of the fact it no longer beat, his heart leapt at her simple phrase.
"I'm right here," he said soothingly, making his way towards her on his hands and knees.
"No! Daddy shall be very displeased if you come too close," she cried out in alarm.
"I don't care much one way or the other if he's displeased," he replied with a note of disgust. Then he realized that he might not be the only to pay for his disobedience. "But I shan't come near you. I don't want any harm to befall you on my account."
Her insane laughter suddenly echoed off the vacant walls. In spite of his love for her, it chilled the marrow of his bones. It was several minutes before she was quiet again.
The silence that filled the room was complete. Not even the sounds of breath or heartbeats broke the total stillness. They stayed like that for a long while, perhaps hours, although it was difficult to tell. William was so hungry he was beginning to feel faint.
At long last, his ears caught the faint rustling noise of Drusilla's crinolines as she began to move. Not unlike his own first few hours in the cell, she walked the perimeter of the walls. When he could tell that she was starting to approach the corner where he sat, he quickly stepped out of her way and into the middle of the room. He listened to the clicking noise of her heels against the floor: eighteen steps to each wall. Her feet were much smaller than his own.
Eventually he heard her slide down the wall, curled into a miserable ball and shaking like mad. Her thin grasp of control was vanishing, and the total darkness of the chamber was terrifying her. In a few moments, he heard her begin to sniffle like a small child. His heart was breaking.
"I want Miss Edith," she began to mumble under her breath. "Where is she? Why won't Daddy give her to me?"
Inwardly, he vowed that if either one of the two older vampires had dared to harm a single hair on Miss Edith's porcelain head, levels of accepted authority or not, he was going to find a way to make them see the sunrise. In the meantime, it would be best to keep the girl's mind occupied.
"Drusilla? Is there anything your childe can do for his sire?" he asked with great respect.
"My sweet William will grow strong in his new garden of the night," she said in a dreamy voice, making a bit more sense than usual. Then, her tone changed abruptly. "What did you do to make Angelus cross?"
Even in the pitch black surrounding him, the vampire flushed a deep red. "Um, well…" He wasn't quite sure how to answer her.
"Come now. Tell Mummy what her naughty boy has been up to."
Although he couldn't see her, he could easily imagine the wicked smile that had crept across her pink lips. As far as he could tell, he didn't have long to live anyway, so what did he have to lose?
"I-I stole one of your gloves."
There was silence once again in the room for a full minute before Drusilla spoke the single word he had half-dreaded, half-hoped she would say.
The question reverberated through the chamber, and in that moment William decided to risk everything and open his heart again, knowing full well that she would undoubtedly agree with Cecily that he was beneath her.
"Because I'm haunted by your voice, your laughter, the glitter of your eyes, the moonlight that's captured in your skin, the graceful movements of your hands, the dark magic of your hair. Because I dream of you from dawn until sunset. Because the moment you enter the room, I feel as though I'm bathed in the gentle glow of the sun again, and the moment you leave me, it's as though the world has turned gray. Because when I see you dancing under the stars in the garden I can almost hear your secret music," he took a deep breath. "Because I'm in love with you."
He gritted his teeth together and waited for the inevitable laughter, the taunts, the insults. But none of them came. Instead he heard her say, in a tone of wonder, "Oh."
Could that possibly be something other than a rejection?
"Drusilla, do you love Angelus?" he asked in a rush, afraid he would lose his nerve if he didn't speak now.
"Daddy can be very kind," she replied in a strange voice, almost on the edge of tears. "But sometimes he makes me unhappy."
"I would never make you unhappy," he declared, wishing he could take the slight woman in his arms.
"I know. You won't," she answered quietly. "But that won't be for awhile yet."
He wasn't sure he had completely understood her words. With a quivering voice, he began to ask, "So, you might consider..."
His words stopped when he heard her begin to crawl blindly towards him. Her hand gently touched the toe of his shoe, and he trembled as she sat noiselessly beside him. Even if Angelus staked him, his unlife had been worth everything for this one moment.
When he felt her hand run lightly along the curve of his jaw, he thought he would die again of happiness.
"Your face is all rough and stubbly," she said in a reproachful singsong.
"I'm... sorry," he faltered, hardly able to form coherent words with the woman he adored so close to him.
Her hand slowly turned his chin towards her, and an explosion of colors danced before his eyes in the darkness as her lips tentatively met his. The kiss was tender, gentle, but intense. He moved to put his arms around her slim waist as she buried her hands in the waves of his hair. Not even once in his mortal life had he ever received a single kiss. This one more than made up for all the others he had never had.
At long last they broke apart, William having the courage to draw his own fingers across the lips of his beloved and receiving a playful nip in return.
"Drusilla, say you'll be mine. I'll wait until the end of time if you tell me to, I'll do whatever you ask of me, but please," he found he couldn't even finish his sentence he was so breathtaken by the possibility.
"Someday, when you've proven yourself, then yes," she said, punctuating the phrase with a brief kiss, "I'll be yours. All yours. Right down to my toenails."
She slid her head against his chest, resting her cheek against the place where his heart had once beat, and he stroked her long, silky hair lovingly, hardly daring to believe what she'd said.
"I'll make you proud of me, my princess," he promised as he placed a kiss on her dark head.
Suddenly she sat bolt upright, inadvertantly bashing her suitor hard on the chin. For the second time that night, he saw stars, but for a completely different reason.
"Daddy is coming! Say nothing to him!" she begged him as she clawed her way to the opposite end of the room.
Only a moment or two later, the door swung open once more and the other vampire's shape could be clearly seen against the bright light behind him.
"William, get yer worthless hide out of there. Drusilla, ya may come along as well. There be fine hunting tonight, and ya willna want ta miss the fun."
William politely waited for the lady to exit the cell first, then made his own way towards the door. Angelus's hand stopped him, and the larger vampire sniffed him thoroughly.
"And take a bath while yer at it, Will me boy. I wouldna want ya to scare away our prey with yer foul reek."
"Yes, sir," he said, managing to keep the note of relief out of his voice as he quickly went up to the kitchen to draw himself the required bath. Apparently, that "foul reek" had kept his grandsire from discovering Drusilla's scent on him.
After scrubbing away the grime of the last few days, not to mention the pungently fragrant side effects of being run over repeatedly by six horses and a carriage, William dressed in fresh clothes and returned to his room to get his pocket watch, which he had luckily left home the night of his repeated beatings. He looked in the mirror out of habit and smacked his head at his own stupidity when the bed behind him stared back at him. Suddenly, his attention was drawn to something dark lying against the snowy coverlet.
Turning around, he peered closer at the object. Resting against the white surface was a black silk glove, the mate to the one Angelus had taken from him. A slip of paper sat beside it, the single word it bore written in delicate script with violet-scented ink.
With a smile, he slipped his lady's glove into his coat pocket once more, defying Angelus to punish him again.
"Well, did your devious little plan work?" Darla asked as she stretched luxuriously, rising for the night from a vast expanse of apricot silk sheets.
"Aye, judgin' by the amount of her perfume he was wearin' by the time I let 'em out, I think it won't be long until the both of them cause us nary a peep o'trouble," Angelus replied as he propped his booted feet on the hearth.
"Even I have to admit, it was clever the way you let him stumble on that glove," she said as she snuggled herself against his shoulder.
"And the best part was I got ta beat the tar out o' him into the bargain," he gloated.
"What excuse did you give for throwing Drusilla in there with him?"
"Oh, that was easy. She'd been bothering me fer well nigh half the day ta let the boy out. I just pretended her incessant begging annoyed me, which it did, and there ya have it. Two little soon-to-be-lovers. There's nothin' like declarin' someone is forbidden fruit to make him or her all the more enticin'," he purred as he nuzzled against his own sire's throat.
"All I care about is Drusilla will finally have somebody else to play nursemaid to her, and William will have a reason to want to leave the nest," the blonde sighed in contentment.
"Are ya so anxious ta be getting' me all ta yerself then, Darla?" he whispered seductively in her ear.
"Always, dear boy. Always."