Disclaimer: I do not own Angel or Criminal Minds or the quote from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, obviously. Written for fun, not profit.
Warning (if any): some torture, madness, and Drusilla-speak.
Author's notes: Written for twistedshorts August Fic-A-Day. I suggest you read the other three one-shots in the series, "Make a Wish," "Put It in Your Pocket," and "He Sings," before reading this story. There will be at least one more story after this one, so keep your eyes peeled ;)~*~
said the bird, I mustn't cry too loudly, or the hungry cat will give a glance.
Drusilla knew her boy heard the warning, because he stilled as best he could, muscles trembling in anticipation. The ropes at his wrists whined as he strained them against the edges of the table, but it did nothing more than pinch his skin. She raked her hand through his lovely hair, scraping at the scalp before she drew her claws down his long neck, his bare back.
He was such a pretty thing, almost too lovely and breakable for a boy, but certainly perfect for a pet. Yes, she was happy she'd chosen him, followed him, taken him…Her sweet falling star wouldn't be able to resist helping such a lost lamb, and while Drusilla waited for her dear Elle to ripen, the voices in his mind proved to be such fine companions.
With his cheek pressed against the wood, he couldn't turn to see her, but he tried. He never stopped trying, and every failure left a fresh wave of fear into the air. She watched his tears gather in puddles against the grain. Dru giggled at the sight—she'd make him lap them up when they finished.
She pinched the skin over his shoulder blade with two fingers, liking how the tender flesh slid over the sharp bone.
The chirp was soft. Drusilla tsk
ed through her teeth. "Now, now—this won't hurt a bit. Grandmummy clips all her little birdies' wings just the same."
She opened the blades of the sheers like a pair of women's legs and snugged his flesh in tight between them. "Snip
," she whispered, "snip.
" And she closed them, taking off a sliver of porcelain white.
He gave a delightful howl, all for her entertainment, and she clapped along to the sound, the scissors still in her fingers. Before his breathing could slow, she reached to his other shoulder blade, pinching the skin and clipping it free.
Drusilla swayed to the sound of his new song—it was her favorite yet. All his voices were chipping in, and the choir shook dust from the rafters. She closed her eyes in ecstasy, feeling her face shift in hunger. It was the scent of him that was nearly her undoing. All these red rivers were begging to be played in…but Drusilla would only splash about. She'd promised him to her dear niece, after all.
Hands coated in crimson, she sucked off her fingers, pretending he was made of honey. She stopped when she heard the sound outside, of an inquisitive pair, listening in on her song bird's singing…That wouldn't do at all.
"Look—you've brought beggars to the door. Who's left to feed them while you whimper? Shh, now, while Grandmummy makes friends. If we're lucky, there's a wolf in wait…"~*~
The stars were always watching her. Waiting for her. Elle felt them overhead but refused to look up, afraid that, just this once, she'd be able to read their message. An arm brushed against her, Spike, his eyes ahead, but Elle knew the movement was deliberate. He did it often when they were out together, as if he could tell just when she started to slip inside herself.
She'd known him for only a few months and already he could read her behavior. Perhaps it was because he always seemed to be watching her, almost as often as the stars, as if they both expected her to transform into a monster at any moment. Or maybe it was just because he had a hundred years on her, and that was all anyone needed to become a damn good profiler.
"How long are we going to stay here? Angel said we might move north."
Spike shrugged, the way he usually did. "Peaches and Big Blue are off hunting us up a bungalow for all I bloody well know. Not like they bother to consult me, 'o course. Should be consulting you, though, since you're going to be footin' the rent until Captain Forehead manages to free up his accounts." He shook his head. "Can't believe he didn't clear out his money before waging war—guess he forgot he was fighting lawyers…Idiot."
Their group had mentioned moving on several times, specifically when they repeatedly asked Elle if she was coming with them. Always Spike had a certain sparkle in his eye when he asked, as if he wasn't planning on giving her a choice in the matter.
Something made him dangerously attentive. Overprotective in a way that would have frightened her, if she hadn't known he had good reason for standing too close. Elle knew what that something was, of course: her Aunt Drusilla.
The evidence of her aunt's bloodline was clearly written in the features of her face, more so than even Elle had ever noticed. When Spike had first taken her to meet Angel, the darker vampire had also reacted strangely, had seen Drusilla staring back at him for a moment. But, while, over the weeks since, Spike had stayed glued to her side like an ever present guardian, Angel had stayed as far from her as possible. He always had an excuse for why he and that odd blue demon of theirs, Illyria, had to go hunt a monster by themselves or check in on a nest one county over.
Elle could have picked up on the history there, between these vampires and their Drusilla, even if Spike hadn't broken it down to her in colorful terms. She'd reached a conclusion before Spike had ever reached the end of the story; Angel felt guilt every time he looked at her heavy, hooded eyes, as if her existence were proof of what should have been, of who Drusilla would have been if he hadn't driven her mad and murdered her… Spike didn't feel guilt when he looked at her, not since they'd first met. Spike took what was on the surface, the chance to keep Elle safe from a creature he'd spent a century in love with, and he rolled with it.
A burst of laughter slipped out from between her lips, and Elle tried to stifle it.
Spike shot her a look. "Twasn't that funny, love."
She shook her head, coming to a stop under a streetlamp. "I'm an ex-FBI agent who's living with two vampires with souls and a blue demon creature I can't even begin to classify—yes, actually, it is that funny, Spike… How on Earth did I even get here?"
Spike came to a stop beside her, digging in his coat for a cigarette. "You walked. Just like the rest of us."
Something must have caught his ear because he turned. Elle followed his gaze down the darkened sidewalk. The street was desolate, urban waste in shades of gray, and there, at the backside of her building, she saw the lone other figure on her block, hunched down against the door to the loft apartment.
"I smell blood," Spike said, quietly.
Elle reached into her purse and pulled out a stake for him. Another reach and she retrieved a handgun for herself—just because demons now existed in her world didn't mean she'd forgotten the other monsters who roamed the earth. They approached quickly, keeping an eye out for an ambush, but none came. When Elle got a closer look, she could see the figure was a pudgy cheeked teenage girl with greasy brown hair down to her chest. She was wrapped in a thick coat, but the zipper was down, showing a blood splattered shirt beneath.
The girl didn't look up, her eyes fixed ahead. Lost. For a moment, Elle thought she was dead, but then the teen opened her mouth.
"Are you Elle?" the girl said, not looking up.
Elle and Spike shared a silence glance. Neither of them answered, but the girl raised a hand, holding a letter up.
Spike kept his eyes glued on the stranger, but Elle couldn't look away from the yellowed envelope. Written in curling letters across the front were four words she lived in dread of: "My Little Fallen Star."
"It's for me."
"Yeah, I figured." Spike sounded distant. It was a split second move, but dove past, tackling the girl to the ground, the stake held flush against her shirt. "Best you sit tight," he growled. "We'll have questions for you."
Elle didn't have time to question the move—the teenager's face shifted, her brow a heavy, mangled mess, jagged fangs filling her mouth. A vampire. Of course. Because all the people she seemed to meet these days were dead.
Spike growled back at the girl. "Had a bit too much blood on you for one person, whelp. You'd know better if you weren't a bloody newborn."
Elle ripped the envelope open. She pulled loose a folded letter, feeling something thicker, heavier still inside, but the smear of red over the paper begged her attention. She sat down on the stoop, where the teenage vampire had been a minute earlier, and tried to make sense of the neat cursive across the unlined page. It wasn't easy to read. Bloody thumbprints smeared the ink in spots, as if Drusilla's hands had been soaked in it when she'd picked up the pen to write.My Dearest Elle,
I miss you, my little star. Family shouldn't be apart for so long. Did you look up at the sky tonight? They're not singing our song yet. Wait, the moon says. Wait. Soon, the stars say. Soon—but I don't like to wait and soon is too far away. I like to take and have. So, I found us another singer, a pretty little song bird with such a lovely voice. Won't you come and hear him? I got him just for you. I clipped his wings before they could grow, so he'll be sure to stay.
Do you like the red mess he made? Does it remind you of the one I helped you with, that hungry man who brought out your monster? They do so bleed alike.
"What's it say?"
Elle looked up. Spike was only a few feet away, his knees still pinning the other bucking vampire down, his own face distorted into that of a monster's. They were just lucky no witnesses had walked past.
"Doesn't make any sense," she muttered. But it did. The profiler in her knew it did, but she didn't want to think of what it meant.
"Yeah, well, that's Dru for you."
Elle tipped the envelope and a heavier object fell out. It was a thick, laminated card, a hole for a clip at the top. A glossy layer of translucent letters caught the light. She recognized it for what it was; an ID, specifically an ID given to employees of the Bureau. Fingers trembling, she flipped it over.
"Reid." She swallowed the name, but it didn't make it down her throat. Elle's face hardened. "She has Reid."
Spike cocked a brow, not following. Elle didn't need him to. She jumped up, crossing the distance in one stride and bringing the blunt heel of her boot down onto the girl's nose, crushing cartilage. The vampire cried out in pain, gurgling up her stolen blood.
"Where?" Elle asked. "Where?"
Spike didn't move; didn't speak. The other vampire looked to him, as if for help, and then back to Elle, as if she were staring up at some horrible dragon who was threatening to set fire to her flesh. Elle hoped that's what the creature saw. She hoped she really looked that terrifying.
"Where did you get this?" Elle hissed. She didn't have to say it was the vampire's last chance.
"That woman…that woman grabbed Mickey and me…" she said, the sound wet and pitched, muffled from the fold that used to be her nostrils. "…We heard screaming down by that old tile factory by the railroad…She said we could pick which one of us lived…Mickey picked me…"
Elle bent down to one knee. "You didn't live. You were murdered."
She wrapped her fingers around Spike's and pushed the stake in with a quick thrust. The girl let out a broken scream and crumbled into dust.
"I know the place," Spike announced. He chewed his bottom lip, as if he wanted to say more. "Who's Reid?" When Elle didn't answer, he shook his head. "Drusilla took some bloke you know. You realize it's a trap, don't you?"
Elle looked around, as if she'd just noticed they were both on the ground, holding the stake. She let go of him and pushed herself back up, not a drop of emotion showing on her face. "If Aunt Dru wants me to be a monster, I'll be a monster. But, she won't like what she sees. I can guarantee it."~*~
Elle didn't have to look the number up. It was the last one she still had memorized from the job she'd left behind. The life she'd left behind. Drusilla may not have killed her yet, may not have succeeded in turning her into one of her undead children, but Dru had taken her life from her with the threat alone.
Elle's finger hesitated over the last digit.
No, that wasn't quite true. Drusilla hadn't shot Lee dead. The vampire had been there, planting the seed, but Elle had been the one to fire. To kill. To enjoy it. Elle had ended that life right then and there. Drusilla was simply the reason she hadn't stuck around for the aftermath.
The phone buzzed against her ear. Elle crossed the room, ignoring the glances Spike was sending her. He was watching carefully, but not calling the shots—this was her game. He was just there to save her from herself. Elle turned her back on him as soon as the call was picked up.
"SSA Derek Morgan."
So formal. Elle smirked. Of course he didn't know it was her number. It was a pre-paid. He probably though the caller was someone he'd left his card with.
Elle wasn't sure why she'd called his phone instead of getting connected through the main line—it would be just as easy to be transferred to J.J.—but she supposed she'd always felt more connected to Derek. Maybe it was because they'd both lost their fathers at such a young age, in such similar circumstances. Like recognized like. Elle didn't think he'd recognize her at all these days.
"Morgan." Elle straightened, gathering her thoughts. "It's Elle Greenaway."
The pause wasn't because he didn't recognize the name, she knew. "Elle?"
He let out a breathy chuckle of disbelief. "How long's it been? Nearly a year?"
Elle didn't answer him. Had it been that long? She'd traveled, hid, lost herself, for several months before running into Spike… She shook it off. "Morgan, is Reid there?"
Another pause. Elle closed her eyes, biting down, as if she could stop the grimace. His silence was answer enough. "How long has he been missing?"
"How—how did you know he was missing?"
"Where was he last seen?"
"That's what we're trying to figure out. The kid took a week off to go visit his mom. When he didn't come back to work yesterday or check in, we…
" Morgan let out a huff of frustration. "Elle, how did you know he was missing? We just found out ourselves. Where are you?"
"Over a week." Elle processed that information. She had no clue where Drusilla might have snagged him, but that wasn't the point. The point was that he really was missing. This wasn't a case of credentials being picked up. She'd know that deep down; Drusilla wasn't the type to play that game. Still, she'd wanted to be sure… Now she was.
." There was desperation in his voice. "You can't just call and…Christ, what do you know about, Reid? Have you seen him? You need to tell me what you know, Elle."
Elle closed the phone and tossed it to Spike. "Get rid of that on the way. I need you to show me the tile factory."
"Angel will be here—"
"I'm not waiting any longer!" she snapped.
Spike frowned. "One of us needs to bring up the obvious, love."
"He might be dead." Elle's jaw hardened in anger, but not at Spike. "I know. I'm still going…You don't get it, but Reid...Reid's brilliant, sweet, good at his job, but he's…He's got this look in his eye, like a kid who's been hurt."
Spike brushed his arm against her, the way he did so often. "Let's go."~*~
The factory was empty; the blood was dry. Drusilla hadn't waited for them.
Spike fingered the ropes on the long work table. They were stained dark, the same shade as the word written on the wall beside it: SOON. An answer to the question on Elle's mind.
"Doesn't look like he much blood," Spike said. "Could still be alive."
"That's comforting," Elle said, not sounding convinced.
"He's still bleeding, so he's still living—that's something, right?"
Elle let out a long breath. "And what if he's a monster when I finally find him?"
Spike watched her, those blue eyes too intense. Elle knew the look, like he was waiting for her to turn, waiting to see the shift. He walked her out of the building, an arm thrown around her shoulders, as if they were two friends out for a drink. A mockery of a life neither of them had anymore. He didn't have to give his promise again; he'd told her he'd keep Dru from making her into a monster. He'd keep his word, no matter what.