By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 29 - Crossroads
"You know me," she stated.
"You're Drusilla," the young man admitted. He stumbled backwards, down the steps until he was standing in the round center of the lecture theatre.
She wasn't surprised that he recognized her. Most of the time she was surprised that people didn't. But something about him was strange. It felt as if he didn't belong. Like that Slayer they had fought.
Drusilla moved closer to her prey, studying him, inhaling his scent. The mortal smelled of fear and death and of blood that wasn't his own. He smelled of sun and sap, and wayward spells. He also smelled of vampire dust. He was a killer of her kind. How interesting.
"You are not a Watcher," the vampire said. "Yet, you watch over a Slayer, the one who doesn't belong. I met her, but I did not care for her."
"You met Bu-- ...her? She's my friend. What do you mean, she doesn't belong?"
She wondered if she should tell him. The mortal was nice; he listened to her. And he knew... things. "The Slayer reeks of Angels," she finally said. "That's what happens when you dance with them, even if it is only for a little while."
"Angels?" The mortal repeated dazedly.
Drusilla ran her hand through his hair, using her mesmerizing power to keep him from recoiling. She caressed his cheek, making a small cut with her nail. She touched the red bead of blood that welled with her fingertip and brought it to her mouth to taste him. His blood was sweet with both fear and courage.
"Is this the one?" she asked the pixies, but they were silent. Then she remembered that they had said her shining knight would have eyes like the sky. This mortal had eyes like a topaz. Still...
She had the feeling someone was watching. Not the pixies this time but three hooded figures who were not really here. Their scrutiny made her skin tingle. She surrendered to the sight and saw...
For the second time in just a few days, Drusilla could see all kinds of crossroads branching out before her. Different faces, different places, different times. Like a kaleidoscope. Pretty. Dizzying.
[A man in black leather and a white shirt without buttons and collar, his eyes dark with hunger and lust, his skin deathly pale; he is quiet and confident, vicious and brave. He is not of this time, but makes his home here. He speaks of the future as if it were his past. He is tall, dark, and strong - he reminds her of Angelus. He creates a lovely new family for her and he never leaves her...]
[Another man in black, his cerulean eyes shine with devotion; he is loud and boisterous, quarrelsome and volatile. He is lithe, vibrant and strong - he and Angelus couldn't be more different. With him at her side the years fly by.]
"I know what you want," Drusilla murmured, running her chilly hands over his muscular chest.
"Yeah, me too. I'd like to wake up at home, in my bed, snuggled up to Anya, and find out that all this is just a bad bad dream."
"I can make you strong and powerful," she continued, ignoring his incomprehensible babble but listening very closely to the things that were in his heart. "You could be my valiant knight and I would be your dark princess. With you to protect me, no one would ever be able to harm me. And you would never ever have to be afraid again, my lovely. I can give you that. Do you want it?"
*Do I want to be able to fight like Buffy? To kick ass and never be afraid again?* Xander shivered. He was so afraid. All his life he'd been afraid. Of everything: failure, ridicule, loneliness, death. To be free of fear... *Yes, oh yes.* Her offer sounded almost impossible to refuse. For a moment Xander teetered on the verge of indecision, but then he shook his head. "No. I know the price and I'm not willing to pay it. I'm not going to let you turn me into a killer. Joining the ranks of things that go bump in the night? Not what I want. So, the answer is: No, I don't want it." *That much.*
He expected the insane vampire to slash his throat or bury her fangs in his neck and he tried to brace himself for the inevitable, but instead of killing him she said, "Very well. But perhaps you can help me."
*Yeah right, I help insane killers all the time...* But he found himself nodding.
"Have you seen my knight? The pixies whispered to me. They promised me a beautiful prince to make my own. He will be wise and strong and brave." She closed her eyes and swayed to an unheard melody. "Where is he? The stars won't show me the way." She pouted.
"A knight?" It took Xander a moment to decipher Drusilla's speech. *Oh, I get it. Spike. Wise, strong and brave, huh?* A plan formed in his head. If she was that eager to find her knight *snort*, maybe he could send her on a wild goose chase...
"Oh, you mean Sp--... um William? I... I'm sure you'll find him soon. In fact, I think I just saw him just around the corner. If you hurry you can catch him. He's a bit smaller than me, blonde hair, blue eyes. I just know you are meant for each other. You'll kill and maim happily ever after."
Even as the words left his mouth it occurred to Xander that he'd just sent a bloodthirsty vampire to murder another man, in order to save his own skin. What did it matter that it had already happened? *Jeez, does that mean Spike gets turned because I've been hurled into the past to point the way? Now that's disturbing.* The thought made him dizzy and also slightly sick.
Drusilla, on the other hand, clapped her hands with glee. Then she took Xander by the hand to drag him up the stairs and out of the lecture theatre. "Show me where you saw him."
"Just outside the hospital," Xander lied.
Drusilla regarded him. "I should kill you, you know. But do not worry. My tummy is full," she said amiably. "I ate a few wicked men and feasted on all kinds of nightmares. And you told me about my knight. I will kill you later. Will you remind me to eat you next time we meet?"
Without waiting for an answer, she turned around and wandered off, humming a happy tune. Occasionally she spread her arms and danced a few steps.
Xander turned the other way and trotted off in the opposite direction, faster and faster until he found himself running. He ran without really knowing where he was going, completely ruled by the overwhelming instinct to just get away from HER. He would have run much further if it hadn't been for the fact that he suddenly remembered where he'd told her to go. *Outside! I told her she could find her prince outside the hospital. Which means this is the wrong way.* He stopped, and leaned against a wall, panting.
*Now if I follow Drusilla, she might lead me to a way out!* `Out' was such a sweet sounding word. He could only hope Dru knew where she was going. And hope that she didn't change her mind about that not eating him thing. He turned around, backtracking his steps hurriedly. He walked down the corridor she had chosen. She wasn't in sight but he thought he heard her singing nearby.
Like a rat following the Pied Piper, Xander followed Drusilla's eerie music along dark corridors, past a closed door with a sign that read `Ward 5', past the room where his medical examination had taken place, until he finally came to an open door. Cool air welcomed him as he stepped into a dark courtyard. Drusilla was nowhere to be seen. The sky was overcast and had an angry red tinge and the air smelled of soot and dirt. Xander was just glad he'd gotten out of the building alive and in one piece.
He'd been lucky. *Yup!* Lucky to have been tied up in that straitjacket. If he'd been strapped to a bed like the patients in Ward 5...
He suddenly remembered the view he'd gotten of Ward 5 when he'd been dragged to his medical examination. The door had stood open and he'd seen a large dormitory with barely enough space between beds to walk. The twenty or thirty beds had been empty, but he had gotten a good look at padded shackles and leather belts.
Well, at nighttime the beds would be occupied. He could picture the patients, all tied to their beds. It was like a buffet.
He froze. *They're dead already. Died a century ago. There's nothing I can do. Hell, there's nothing I should do, except get outa here.* He didn't even known if the vampires would go in there. After all, they had so many people to choose from. *And messing with time? Not of the good!* Besides, Buffy was the Slayer, while Xander was just part of the back up team, research pal *Well, not so much*, morale officer and donut expert. He stopped. His mind said one thing, and his gut - which was tied in a fearful knot - agreed, but his heart said another.
He turned and looked at the door that led back into the asylum. *What would Buffy do?* he asked himself, knowing the answer. She'd tell him to get out, to get to safety and then she'd barge in to kick some ass. *So, maybe this is Buffy's job, the slaying and the saving. But Buffy's not here. And I am.* He swallowed and wiped his sweaty palms on his pants. Then he ran back as fast as he could. Ward 5, The door was locked, but he knew that wouldn't stop a group of determined bloodsuckers. They probably had more keys than they needed, one set for each orderly killed. Xander fumbled with his key ring and tried to insert a random key but his hands were trembling too much. Hell, his whole body was racked with the shakes, both from fear and from his most recent exertions. He forced himself to take a deep breath and studied the keys in his hands and the lock on the door. Two more deep breaths and he felt the trembling subside somewhat.
He picked a key and slid it into the lock. It fit! He opened the door, slipped inside and locked it behind him. He quickly scanned the room. There were twenty-five beds, arranged five by five. All were occupied by women rendered prone by belts and buckles.
His arrival did not remain unnoticed. A few women began to wail. Others just turned their heads to look at him lethargically. A few seemed to be asleep. Maybe they were drugged or something. It looked like he'd stumbled on the ward for pregnant patients, because most of the women had swollen bellies. *A pregnancy ward?* He recognized Molly, the woman who'd fed him during meals, in one of the beds and quickly walked over to her. She was awake but her eyes were eerily vacant.
"Molly? Molly, can you hear me?" Xander tried urgently. She'd been able to follow the orderlies' instructions during meal times, so she couldn't be all gone. *Here's hoping.* "Come on, talk to me!"
"Molly does not talk, not anymore," a rasping voice said next to him. Xander started. The woman in the adjoining bed shot him a defiant glance before lowering her eyes in a cautious gesture of submission. "That is why she is here," she added. It was hard to guess her age. Forty-five, maybe older. She was thin and flat chested, her body emaciated almost to the point of masculinity. Her short chestnut hair was streaked with gray.
Xander reached for the belt that strapped the woman's waist to the bed. He saw her flinch. He also realized that this woman didn't look pregnant at all. Then why was she kept in the ward for preg--- *Oh my god!* the realization hit him like a sledgehammer. The women here were with child because tied up like this they were easy prey... not just for vampires but for any orderly sick enough to force himself on the women in his care. Bile rose in Xander's throat.
"Don't worry, I'm not an orderly, and I'm not going to hurt you," he promised. "Who are you?"
"My name is Helen Moore."
"Xander Harris," Xander introduced himself, forgetting his alias. He freed her hands.
She sat up hurriedly and rubbed her wrists. "I heard screams. More than usual. What is happening?"
"You wouldn't believe me," he answered ruefully. "You'd think I'm crazy." He looked around and spotted a cross on one of the walls. He had to climb on a bed to get it down but felt much better holding it. He regarded the room: several barred windows that were too small to climb through anyway and three doors.
"Where do those lead to?"
"Bathroom and storeroom," Helen Moore replied. She wasted no time and started freeing first Molly and then several other women. Xander fervently hoped that she was sane enough to know what she was doing.
"Okay, everyone listen," Xander spoke up. "We have to stay inside this room and not let anyone in. There are... people out there... murdering... other people."
The women huddled together like scared sheep, clutching their swollen bellies and watching fearfully as Xander used several beds to erect a barricade. His whole body hurt from his injuries and his earlier activities. He was tired, hungry and sore. And he was scared. But he was also determined to give the first vampire who stuck his face through the door a proper walloping. Six years of Scooby-ing had to be good for something.
It didn't take Spike long to get re-acquainted with his surroundings. The sights and smells made his stomach flip as a wave of nostalgia washed over him. *Are vampires supposed to feel nostalgic?* he wondered. He could feel the river and taste the filth. He smiled at the easy familiarity. Traveling through dark alleyways, he made his way across East London through a maze of warehouses and factories. He easily avoided the streetlamps that cast a sickly yellow glow on the paved roads in front of boarded up buildings. At every turn, his confidence grew, as memories floated up through his subconscious and he became increasingly more accustomed to the area. Before long, he was standing a block from the asylum.
St. Luke's was hard to miss. It was a large prison-like complex of buildings, surrounded by a stout wall. Spike headed for the delivery gate. It was closed but unlocked. He was about to slip inside when he sensed someone. He whirled around.
There she stood, dressed in a dark green robe, her dark hair fashioned into a cascade of curls. Almost exactly like the night he'd died.
"Drusilla," he exclaimed.
Continued in Part 30 - Alter Egos