Chapel of Bones
TITLE: Chapel of Bones
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SUMMARY: Spike & Dru have a romantic candlelit dinner and then try a spot of witch-burning in Prague. Self-contained, but follows 'Painted Eggs'.
SPOILERS: Nope. Pre-Sunnydale.
CONTENT/WARNINGS: A little sex, a little blood, a few bones, a few flames.
RATING: NC17. Het. Slash. Violence. Spike & Dru are not nice.
DISCLAIMER: I am not now, nor have I ever been, Numfar. Not even a little bit. The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui, Sandollar, and David Greenwalt Productions, 20th Century Fox, and whoever else may have a hold upon them. The situation is wholly mine, and I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights.
COMMENTS: Thanks as always to Herself & Spik-el-oost folks.
He had stolen the candles from a church, handful upon slender handful like bunches of headless white flowers. A battery-operated torch would have been simpler, but Spike was a romantic and he knew his girl would want things done right.
When he pulled the sliver of silk away from her eyes the expression of pure delight on Dru's face made all the fussing worthwhile; and he smiled as she twirled on the spot, the flare of her velvet skirts dappling the walls with dancing shadows as the candle flames flickered in her wake. She was looking especially radiant, the blood of a fresh kill lending her cheeks a temporary cast of damask and tinting her lips with borrowed coral. Spike could not conceive of any more beautiful sight. The waves of gleaming hair that he brushed one hundred times each morning and one hundred times each night framed her face to absolute perfection and sent him fumbling for similes; but his darling rendered words redundant, and unlike long-dead poets' loves she would outlive mere stumbling verse.
The chandelier caught her attention and she exclaimed at the sight of the baroque lacework of interwoven bone, its polished skulls gleaming softly in the candlelight.
"Thousands of voices - I heard them whispering while I waited in the graveyard, but I didn't know they'd be so pretty, Spike!" She swayed slightly, cobra-like, her lips curling into a dreamy little smile.
He had heard about Kutna Hora from an inebriated slime demon in a smoke-filled jazz bar near Wenceslas Square. Spike had felt sure his girl would be enchanted with the Bone Chapel; so late one fine April evening they had caught the train east out of Prague on a little excursion.
Some mad bastard of a woodcarver had made all this back in the fourteenth century, apparently; just up and started creating pretty patterns out of the ossuary's skeletons one day. Next thing you know there are altars and shields and chalices and pyramids made out of rearranged hip bones and rib cages and heaven knows what; swags of skulls hanging merrily from the ceiling, rococo patterns of interlocking femurs covering the walls and a whopping great coat of arms made out of actual arms. And legs, torsos, spines, pelvises; the remains of some 40,000 humans had gone into creating his gruesome art gallery. Even signed his name in bones.
Just when you thought humans couldn't surprise you, you stumbled across something like this. It warmed the cockles of his heart.
Long before he became Spike or William the Bloody -back when he was Just William, Sweet William, a poor to passable poet spilling ink on his mother's second best tablecloth and dreaming of love - he recalled reading 'Beowulf' and shivering at the horrors it contained. Blood and bones and monstrous beasts that ripped men limb from limb. Funny how things turned out. The ever-literal Anglo Saxon poet had called the human body 'ban hus', if memory served him right -'bone house'. He'd thought it rather chilling at the time. And here they were rattling around in a bone chapel a century later, him and his immortal darling; as gay and carefree a pair of demon lovers as one could ever wish to see.
This, Spike reflected, is happiness. Life simply doesn't get any better than this.
"What have you got in the basket?" Drusilla asked, smiling her most bewitching little smile. He pulled back the cover like an end-of-the-pier prestidigitator and Drusilla clapped in sheer delight. "A picnic! A picnic!"
Two pudgy baby boys peered up saucer-eyed, waving little pink starfish hands and blinking in the sudden flood of candlelight.
It was a warm evening and Drusilla's red velvet gown earned some puzzled glances from the shorts-and-T-shirt clad backpackers milling around Kutna Hora's little station in the crepuscular gloom.
He clasped her waist and lifted her up onto the train with unnecessary care, and then he strode off down the corridor in a swirl of black leather to find an appropriate compartment while she pressed her nose against the window and blinked down at the platform. Spike briefly considered joining a sweet little family of Czechs, but eventually settled upon four British backpackers out of vaguely patriotic principles.
They were painfully middle class, two girls and two boys - clearly off travelling the world for a year before taking up jobs in marketing or management or something equally original. The planet seemed to be littered with their ilk these days, all scratchy Himalayan shirts, Vietnamese sandals and badly-rolled joints for a few months, before they started contributing to pension schemes and bickering over wallpaper patterns in deepest suburbia. They manhandled their brightly coloured rucksacks with the practiced weariness of people who had been doing this for too long and had started to pine for Milton Keynes. One of the girls had the misfortune to remind him a little of Cecily, and it was this that finally made up his mind as he stood poised on the threshold.
When they saw Spike framed in the doorway the two young men bristled, but both girls returned his gaze appreciatively. The Cecily one was so distracted that she forgot to concentrate on trying to stuff her emerald green backpack up onto the luggage rack, with inevitable results. Spike jumped forward and caught the thing just before it landed on her cropped head, suddenly chest-to-chest as he boosted the bag effortlessly into place. He could feel the heat of her breasts seeping pleasantly through his shirt and he took his time stepping back, smiling down at her with the utter confidence of someone surveying his own rightful property.
"Room for two more in here, is there?" he asked.
"You're English!" exclaimed Cecily, and then she flushed a little as he directed the full force of his smile at her.
"So I am. Mind if me and my girl join you?"
It was a game they always played on trains, to while away the hours; gradually drinking everyone in the compartment until only one unsuspecting soul was left surrounded by seemingly-somnolent forms. The rattling darkness that still swept these old fashioned compartments whenever the train went through a tunnel was an ideal cover; and they would take it in turns to drain their travelling companions as silently and swiftly as they could. Drusilla dearly loved her games. She would sit giggling demurely in the corner, peering over at him through the fringe of her lashes like the naughtiest schoolgirl in the world. Sometimes they would simply let the last person live - this was especially entertaining if he or she had fallen asleep, and the thought of the hubbub of anguished screams once they awoke at their destination always amused Spike. At other times they would make a little play of it and spin the final kill out for a long time, enjoying the dawning comprehension and growing terror as they revealed yellow eyes and fangs.
This time it was the girl who reminded him of Cecily they saved for last. She was thoroughly charmed by Spike and Drusilla and embarrassed that her companions had all fallen asleep. She could have talked for Britain, but Spike thought it was a sign of insecurity rather than overweening confidence. Her name was Julia, her parents were divorced and she had a little brother and an elderly Alsatian waiting for her at home in Ipswich. She had studied European History at Bristol where she fell in love and out of love and dabbled with smoking and drank until she was sick on several occasions; she was scared of heights; she liked Elastica and Pulp and wished she'd kept up the piano lessons; her favourite colour was green; her favourite food was prawn madras; she missed 'Eastenders' so much that her mum gave her soap updates every time she rang home; she thought Dru's dress was lovely; she cried each time she watched 'Top Gun'; and her blood, when they finally tore out her throat and stilled her young tongue forever, tasted very much like anyone else's blood.
She was most surprised to die.
Afterwards they made love fully clothed on the cramped floor of the compartment, their entwined limbs almost warm from all the freshly spilled life. Drusilla's hair snaked across the floor like silken pitch and laughter bubbled out of her as he tugged up the red velvet and parted her ivory thighs. Her fiercely clenching cunt was slippery and cool and utterly voracious - and his, always and only his, now that Angelus was gone.
The finest thing in Spike's world - better than the buzz of demonic strength that coursed through his dead veins, better than the sight of wounds healing under his gaze, better than the thrill of taking on a roomful of drunk miners, better than the taste of blood in his mouth - positively the finest thing in Spike's world was the feel of being held tight in the clutch of Dru's welcoming quim and knowing that she loved him above all things. Uxoriousness was his ruling sin and Drusilla's arms and cunt were his best and only home.
She cried out his name when she finally came, her white-stockinged legs locked tightly round his waist and her nails scoring deep into his black leather back.
Drusilla had spent some time arranging the cooling backpackers into a charming little tableau; Julia and Rashid embracing while Elizabeth rested her fair head on Alec's shoulder in a passable approximation of sleep. Unfortunately the elaborate poses could only be maintained for a matter of minutes before the motion of the train jolted a limp limb out of place or sent a heavy head lolling on its stem. Eventually Drusilla grew thoroughly impatient with the corpses' intransigence and chastised them all roundly; and when this still had no impact she finally made Spike throw them from the train. Now she reclined with her head in Spike's lap, wiping bits of the late ticket inspector from the brim of the late ticket inspector's cap.
Over the past hour or so Spike had noticed distant flecks of firelight speckling the darkness like land-locked stars as the train rolled through the Bohemian countryside; intrigued, he leafed through Julia's battered guidebook and discovered that April 30th was Carodejnice, the witch-burning festival.
"Bonfire night!" Dru said with great satisfaction. "Will there be toffee apples and a penny for the Guy?"
He stroked her tumbled hair absently while he continued to peruse the book.
"No, pet, I don't think so - they do things a little differently here. No mention of bonfire toffee. Says this is the night witches are supposed to be abroad, so villagers paint crosses on their doors, sprinkle their houses with holy water and make nasty great fires out of broomsticks. And have a party. Can't see that upsetting many witches, to be honest, but I don't much fancy the crosses and holy water stuff myself."
Spike suspected that the good people of Prague were unlikely to indulge in robust folk festivals; city folk the world over disdained the 'superstitions' of their country cousins. But this was just the sort of stereotypical quaintness that tourists adored, so there were bound to be some revels to be found in Prague - people in pointy hats, that kind of thing. Could be fun.
"I want to burn a witch," said Drusilla, her eyes glittering.
"Now, witches can be tricky buggers, my love," Spike pointed out; but he felt the notion take hold of him as soon as it was uttered. "Liable to put up a bit of a fight, they are."
Dru batted her eyelashes at him, all spritely mischief, and reached up to perch the cap on his head at a jaunty angle.
"You'll look after me, Spike," she said with a complacent little smile.
And of course he would. Besides, feeding in the city was ridiculously easy - the tourists were as helpless before him as grass before a scythe and precious few Pragers believed in ghosties and ghoulies and long legged things and things that bit necks in the night. They practically hurled themselves onto his fangs.
Finding a witch to burn would be more of a challenge.
It was still dark when they stepped onto the platform back in Prague. Drusilla stood on the ground with her arms a little outstretched for balance and her legs braced, bobbing gently back and forth as though she still rode the rumbling train. Where her heavy crimson hem brushed the ground it left a dark stain on the moonlit concrete.
"I can feel the earth spinning, Spike," she announced with astonished delight. He pressed a feather-light kiss onto her pale brow and then held her at arm's length, enjoying the gentle resistance of the velvet shoulders under his whorled fingertips. He realised after a moment that he was grinning like an idiot, but couldn't think of any reason to stop.
"Where to now, my sweet?"
Despite the lateness of the hour the Metro was crammed with warm life. A blushing Czech offered Drusilla a seat after enduring several minutes of her wide eyed stare; Spike stood nearby, idly noting exposed throats and the tender skin of inner elbows and knees joints. The crowd thickened. Abruptly Spike became aware of a tiny sliver of movement where there should be only stillness. A stealthy little hand was creeping into the pocket of his black leather duster.
Spike waited expressionlessly, forgetting to feign breathing as he felt his wallet and silver lighter being expertly plucked away. The thief was just in his peripheral vision - slight, dark haired, a girl of seventeen or so who hadn't been near soap in weeks. He waited patiently until they arrived at the next station and then in the awkward bustle of bodies he turned and pinioned her into the corner, one hand wrapping quickly round her throat and the other covering her own light-fingered little hand. There was only a moment to glimpse the shock in her eyes before his mouth closed over hers and he relaxed into his demon face, ripping her lips open and biting off her tongue even as she flailed and suffocated in his grip. Her heartbeat was surprisingly strong for one so small and poorly fed, but it didn't take him long to end it, gulping down the spouting blood until the flow slowed at last to a dribble and she dangled limply in his embrace like a lost doll.
She was dead before they reached the next station and he briskly re-pocketed his possessions, along with a gift-wrapped amber bracelet, a shiny little polaroid camera from Japan and a handful of notes.
The magic shop was exactly where the Chaos demon had told them; turned out it was a street that Spike knew quite well, but a low level glamour hid it from the casual observer and he'd been under the impression that there was nothing there but a wall covered in crumbling pink stucco. Now that he knew where to look Spike could plainly see the dapper little shopfront with a Guild of Magic-Users sign displayed above the door. Real old school stuff, this - even had a moth-eaten crocodile suspended in the dusty window, likely been there since before the Prague Golem's day. They slipped into a window seat in the cafe on the corner of the street and waited for a witch to wander by.
Modern gadgetry just kept getting smaller and smaller. He peered through the view finder at Drusilla's smile and tried various little buttons until the flash lit her up and the camera made a satisfying click. The picture slid out into his hand a moment later and Dru watched, fascinated, as her image slowly formed out of the ether.
"Again!" she exclaimed, thoroughly enchanted. Spike obliged with a grin. Didn't seem so long since the Box Brownies; back in the good old days of stern sepia faces folks never would have believed you could take photographs so casually.
The ice cubes made the glass cold in Spike's hand, but the bourbon provided a lingering illusion of warmth as he swallowed it down. Across the table Drusilla sipped cherry brandy and peered at four photographs fanned out before her, fingering her new bracelet with the expression of a child with a longed-for ice cream. Each flutter of her sooty lashes reduced their enamoured waiter to a quivering wreck; she seduced men without even trying, his girl. Not like bloody Darla -all cheap, calculated artifice and faux disingenuity. Drusilla, in spite of everything - or perhaps rather because of everything - was as innocent as a babe in arms; real innocence had never been the saccharine stuff of Disney movies. Perfect innocence, Spike had come to understand, was cruel without care or comprehension of the consequences.
She was the first to spot their target, suddenly rising to her feet and pointing, the dark eyes all a-sparkle in her sweet bone-china face. Spike, following her gaze, saw a stocky woman balancing several cumbersome packages and stepping out of the magic shop. Bingo.
"I spy with my little eye, something beginning with...pain," she said. "A sweet little witch with power flowing through her veins like wine and rainbow dreams wreathing her heart. She'll make a fine treat to quench a girl's thirst before we roast her."
He knocked back the rest of the bourbon and rose, pocketing the pictures as he tossed a few stolen bills onto the table.
The witch had her back to them and was evidently in a hurry. Wordlessly they separated, each taking one side of the street and moving with the uncanny speed and silence reserved for hunting. Spike felt a rush of pure exhilaration and then reminded himself that it was Drusilla's kill; he was only there to protect her if needs be. In all likelihood she could handle herself just fine - still the possibility of danger was a welcome thrill in this unthreatening city.
They followed her through a cat's cradle of interlacing stradas, quiet as her shadow and just as inescapable. It was her town, to be sure, but Spike and Dru had been hunting in cities for decades and had predators' instincts for the nuances of topography. Eventually the rhythm of her footsteps faltered slightly, betraying the moment when she realised she was prey. Spike smiled and moved in closer, hearing her heartbeat quicken and knowing she would be weighing up escape routes even as she readied her magic.
Time to move, before one of them was turned into a frog. (Although he suspected, were that to happen, that Drusilla would take his transformation in her stride. Most likely she would spend the next century kissing his slimy green lips and perching toy crowns on his dank little head, confidently expecting her prince to return - not a fate he fancied over much.)
He was right behind the witch in full vamp face when she turned. She hurled the packages into his face -which he should really have been expecting - and her eyes were pools of pitch as her mouth started shaping the beginnings of a spell directed straight at him. Which was as it should be, since he was drawing her fire for Drusilla, but she'd better bloody well hurry up before he found himself reduced to playing Kermit to her Miss Piggy for the rest of their sunless eternity...
...and then Drusilla peeled out of the shadows and felled her with one sharp blow from hands folded, prayer-like, into a makeshift hammer of flesh. The angle of the impact broke her new bracelet, scattering chunks of amber across the cobbles like brittle little lumps of bonfire toffee; and Dru let out a mewl of regret as she shoved the human to the ground. The witch's eyes resumed their human appearance for a dazed moment and then Drusilla was straddling the disoriented woman and pressing her nose close to the helpless human face.
"Be in my eyes," she crooned, stroking the nut-brown hair. "Be in me. Be in my eyes."
Simple as that.
Spike kept watch for any inconvenient pedestrians as his girl slowly unbuttoned the witch's blouse. The human was unremarkable - not pretty, but attractive enough in her own unfashionable fashion. A touch too heavyset for modern ideals of beauty, but neither Spike nor Dru was hidebound by conventions of taste. In any sense.
Drusilla stroked the soft stretch of skin from the raised chin down to the waist. "Purr for me, sweetheart," she said, and to Spike's amusement the little witch did just that, staring blindly at the stars. Her pale breasts jiggled with the reverberations of her chest and Drusilla pressed her ear down against the exposed skin, listening raptly with her hair spilling across the woman's torso. "Good girl," she said, pressing a kiss onto each dark nipple.
Spike sloughed away the cellophane around a pack of Lucky Strike that he had liberated earlier in the evening and lit another fag, smiling indulgently as Drusilla crouched over the entranced human.
Lost in dreams of Dru's weaving, she moaned softly when the vampire's face came down between her legs to inhale soap and fear and the lingering trace of some man who smoked cheap tobacco and ate too much red meat. Drusilla seized the cotton in her fanged mouth and shook her head like a small dog worrying a shoe, shredding the knickers with a satisfying rip. She buried her face in the tangled curls, her wet tongue seeking the outer lips of the girl's cunt and probing its secrets; testing and tasting and teasing the nerve-heavy flesh until the clitoris grew swollen under her attention and the blood thrummed just below the surface of the skin. Spike could smell the girl's arousal mingling with the other evening odours and watched as Dru sent the girl shuddering and bucking under her. Drusilla withdrew her face from the splayed thighs long enough to meet her lover's yellow eyes and smile.
"She tastes like crabapple jelly and clotted cream," she told him.
Spike found this assertion highly unlikely, but was perfectly prepared to believe that his girl thought it was so. God, but she was beautiful with her teeth unsheathed and her gaze all golden in the moonlight.
As the witch climaxed, her limbs spasming stupidly against the cobbles and blood flooding the pelvic muscles, Drusilla bit down hard. She laughed as blood arced out in time to the heartbeat, catching splashes in her pale hands and licking them clean before pressing her mouth down to suckle at the wound.
She was not quite dead when they set her alight. Drusilla released her hold on the woman's mind and allowed her to understand as flames licked the edges of her tasteless tassled skirt and her drained heart stuttered to a halt. She was beyond stirring, but Spike felt unexpectedly disquieted by the dying gleam in her eye; her lips never moved, but he swore that he could almost hear a vengeful voice tickling the edge of his consciousness - less than a whisper, the merest flicker of something on the peripheries of his hearing. Just to be on the safe side he brought a Doc Martin down on her bloodless throat and silenced the thin thread of sound with a decisive crunch of vertebrae underfoot.
And then his arms were full of Drusilla, high as a kite and twice as flighty, and her tongue in his mouth tasted of blood and sex and magic. He bent his girl right back until her cascading hair brushed the cobbles like a swooning screen siren from the golden age of film, and he kissed her until long after the fire had burned itself out. By the time they left the alleyway they could smell dawn in the air and Spike had quite forgotten to worry about witchcraft.
He didn't realise one of the polaroids was missing until long after they had reached their apartment.