It was a total anti-climax. Drusilla didn’t seem to be even remotely interested in mayhem, for once. Pouting, she submitted easily to being manhandled into a chair. “I only wanted a tea party.”
“Well, it’s wine or … Mr Sunshine,” Buffy said sharply, tapping on the windowpane in a threatening manner.
“Hey!” Harmony cried indignantly.
Buffy shrugged, very nearly guiltily.
Drusilla’s eyes turned to bile and her face shifted. “Little stroppets shouldn’t speak in front of their elders and betters.”
Harmony hissed, following Drusilla into game-face.
Buffy decided that, whoever they were, the funeral guests’ total lack of reaction to two angry vampires meant they were probably evil, or at the very least, scarier than they looked. “Let’s all just stay calm, shall we?” she said in her best slay-quipping voice, tapping meaningfully on the glass again.
Drusilla’s face slipped back to human. “Will it be red wine?” she asked hopefully.
Harmony held up a bottle, something white that Buffy didn’t recognise.
Drusilla’s face fell.
Buffy grabbed the wine from Harmony and refilled her own glass. She drank half of it in one gulp, whispering, “Oh, god, I needed that.”
Drusilla gestured imperiously at Harmony. “Fetch me a goblet, infant.”
“You’re not the boss of me,” Harmony sneered. “I make minions, you know.”
Buffy’s eyebrow arched.
“Used to!” Harmony whined.
Reminding herself that she was retired, Buffy said, “Just get her a glass.”
Harmony went back towards the bar; she was a follower at heart. But she mutinously detoured by the buffet table and got more cake. And then cheese puffs. It was none of her business if Buffy didn’t care about her fat, fat thighs.
“Why are you here, Drusilla?” Buffy asked.
“I came for him.”
Buffy frowned, surprised. “You knew Wesley?”
“Who?” Drusilla cocked her head to one side exactly like Spike used to.
“Uh,” Buffy faltered. “You know, the guy we’re pretending we buried today?”
Drusilla stared back at her blankly.
Rolling her eyes, Buffy asked: “Who’s the ‘him’ you came for?”
“Angelus, of course.”
Buffy’s heart stopped.
Drusilla grinned. “They couldn’t burn him, even though they tried and tried.”
“He’s really alive?” Buffy asked hoarsely.
Drusilla nodded, still grinning.
“Sorry, Droodzilla,” Harmony called, handing her a plastic cup and dumping the food on the table. “All out of wine glasses.” She winked at Buffy; Buffy didn’t seem to notice. “Who’s alive?”
“Angel,” Buffy breathed.
Harmony raised one perfectly manicured eyebrow. “That guy has more lives than a dog.”
Unable to let it go, Buffy said, “Don’t you mean a cat?”
Harmony shrugged, totally unconcerned. “You ask me, he was just plain crazy. All that money and status and he was miserable all the time! Talk about a waste.”
“There are more important things,” Buffy said.
Harmony’s jaw dropped in perfectly genuine shock.
“I am not equipped to mention the feelings of the birds,” Drusilla murmured dreamily. Then she picked up a piece of cake and took a small bite out of it, somehow managing not to leave a single smear of icing or muss her lipstick.
Harmony snapped her mouth shut. She and Buffy started at Drusilla, blissfully chewing, then back at each other, and silently agreed to just continue on as if she’d never spoken.
“How did you survive, anyway?” Buffy asked. “You’re not exactly….”
“Oh, I’m definitely a lover, not a fighter,” Harmony simpered.
Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “Angel got you out before it was dangerous, didn’t he?”
Harmony shrugged, tittering nervously.
Drusilla was now swaying slightly, eyes closed, while she drank wine out of a plastic cup. Buffy pinched herself. Hard. Then harder. But she still wasn’t waking up, despite the neat row of bruises now lining her left arm. She stuffed a cheese puff into her mouth whole and started chewing. Cheese and pastry made everything better, right?
Drusilla’s eyes popped open. “The birds have stopped singing.”
Harmony looked outside. “No, they haven’t.”
Drusilla shrugged. “Not here.”
Buffy swallowed her cheese puff. Everything was so surreal anyway, she might as well just give into it and see if lunch with Drusilla and Harmony at Wesley Windham-Pryce’s memorial service could be one of the better things she did this year. It was a pretty low bar, after all.
“So, um, have you seen Angel?” Buffy asked, hope finally winning out over her own better judgement.
Drusilla’s eyes refocused on something fascinating just past Buffy’s left ear. “He called me.”
Buffy shuddered. “All that vampy crap so creeps me out.”
“On the phone,” Drusilla clarified, suddenly looking completely sane and alert and … smug?
Harmony wasn’t convinced. “Angel really liked Wesley. If he was still undead and kicking, he’d be here.” She paused, turning suspiciously to Drusilla. “And since when do you even have a phone? Aren’t you, like, stuck in the eighteenth century?” Harmony looked Drusilla’s goth, faux-Victorian dress up and down, lips twisting in distaste. “Such a fashion disaster.”
“Don’t speak,” Drusilla said coldly. “It doesn’t become you.”
Buffy tried and failed to repress a snigger.
Harmony felt betrayed. “What is it with you two and Angel? It’s not like he had much personality or anything. It was all brood, brood, brood, whine, whine, whine. I’m-better-than-you-‘cause-I-have-a-soul.”
“Well, he is,” Buffy said, looking back and forth between the two vampires, more apologetically than was appropriate given who she was talking to.
“Whatever,” Harmony huffed. “Losing my soul didn’t change me.”
Buffy was all ready to deliver a scathing comeback when she realised she didn’t have one. Not for Harmony, anyway. And wasn’t that all kinds of disturbing?
“My Daddy wasn’t so different from the Angel you knew,” Drusilla purred. “He ripped your heart out too, didn’t he?” She beamed at Buffy, as if welcoming her into a special sisterhood.
Drusilla giggled. “That was my favourite present.”
Buffy felt more than slightly sick at that.
“It didn’t change Spike, either,” Harmony continued confidently. “Not like the chip did. I just don’t get what the big deal is.”
Buffy knew there was definitely a scathing comeback to that. Any one of her friends would have had it, all ready to roll out when such a comeback was needed. But Buffy, being better at resolving the non-verbal kind of disagreement, just couldn’t quite articulate one right at that moment. She crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair. “Angel would never have tried to end the world just to watch it burn.”
Harmony shrugged. “Lots of people died, though, didn’t they?”
Drusilla ignored them both, lifting a strand of her hair up above her head and staring at it while yanking speculatively. “I don’t think my hair is falling out,” she murmured. “Is it?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “I’m not having this argument with you, Harmony.”
“Fine!” Harmony said haughtily. “I’m past indulging icky fetishes, anyway,” she added, with a moue of distaste.
Drusilla snapped back into the conversation, looking like she’d just swallowed a particularly noxious bug. Buffy sprayed a mouthful of wine over the table.
“I’m sorry, you were indulging what fetishes with Angel?” Buffy squawked, just as Drusilla snapped “Dollymop!”
Harmony just laughed. “Ohmigod! I don’t even want to know about Angel’s sex fetishes. I meant his obsession with souls. And shouldn’t you both, like, care more about Spike?” She stared incredulously at the other two. “You know, that guy you were both actually in a relationship with for more than five minutes? The one whose unlife you totally managed to ruin between you?”
“We were never in a – wait, how do you even know about that?” Buffy asked.
“Spike told me, duh!”
Drusilla, catching the frozen look on Buffy’s face, started giggling. “Silly bitch didn’t know he came back from where she sent him!”
Buffy’s heart came to a shuddering stop for the second time that afternoon.
Harmony squealed in delighted schadenfreude. “Seriously? He never worked up the guts to call you before he went off on Angel’s stupid suicide mission?” She started laughing along with Drusilla. “Wow. Just … wow.”
“You…,” Buffy started. “He….”
“Oh, we were a regular Brad and Jennifer as soon as he stopped being a ghost!” Harmony said smugly.
Drusilla abruptly stopped giggling and pointed at Harmony. “Red, this time.”
Buffy was stuck on ‘being a ghost’.
Harmony ignored them both. “Why anyone would prefer Angel is beyond me. He’s so … self-absorbed. I bet he never gave head.” Harmony’s eyes went unfocused and soft. “Spike would go down on me for hours … well, a lot of minutes, anyway.”
Buffy only barely restrained the urge to punch her for gifting her with that mental image.
Drusilla had no such restraint, and slapped Harmony hard across the face. With nails.
Harmony vamped out and started growling. “He wouldn’t touch you now if you paid him. I was the only one he wanted when he got his body back. For hours and hours and – well, a really long time!”
Drusilla suddenly burst into wet, messy sobs. Over Spike. Of course, with her colouring, she made it look ethereal and graceful, the bitch. Buffy found herself patting her in a weak attempt at comfort, wondering how Spike would react to seeing this level of grief after so many years of indifference. Would he have said thanks for the crying, but he didn’t believe it?
Despite the utter surreality and underlying awkwardness, Drusilla latched onto the crumb of comfort she was offered, burying her face in Buffy’s shoulder and crying even harder.
Harmony’s face reverted to human, and she blithely picked up the bottle to refill her glass. When she found it empty, she glared at Drusilla. “So not getting red,” she snapped before stalking off in search of more.
If anyone had told Buffy she’d be sitting in the Acorn Room stroking Drusilla’s (remarkably soft) hair while the skank cried like her heart was breaking, she would have punched them in the nose. Particularly given the proximity of Drusilla’s fangs to her jugular. And also, blood breath much? Retired, I’m retired, Buffy chanted inside her head.
“Is he here?” Drusilla whimpered, finally raising her head and managing to look cute rather than bedraggled after all that crying.
Drusilla made a tiny hiccoughing noise. “My Spike.”
“He’s not,” Buffy said, surprising herself by the gentleness of her tone. Although maybe it was more for her than Drusilla.
Drusilla suddenly flinched hard at the sight of Buffy, like she’d forgotten she was even there. “He isn’t mine anymore.”
“No,” Buffy said, still gentle. There was something about Drusilla that made her want to take care of her. Buffy wondered, suddenly, if it might be thrall.
“But he was my knight,” Drusilla said wistfully. “And I was his princess.”
“You were.” Buffy tried to keep the smug out, honestly she did. She just wasn’t very good at the trying. Probably not thrall, then.
Drusilla sat up abruptly, and shunted her chair away from Buffy’s. “I miss him.”
“Me too,” Buffy said, her voice catching on the words. She’d very carefully avoided saying anything like those words for a very long time now. But what did it matter if Drusilla heard?
Drusilla stared at her for a few seconds, seeming to look straight through her and into her heart. “I see you. Love is your power.”
Buffy shifted uncomfortably in her chair. Okay, maybe it mattered if Drusilla heard the words.
Drusilla reached out one hand and touched Buffy’s cheek lightly. “And you are surrounded by love in return.”
Buffy jerked away. “Yeah, well, I hear my gift is death.”
Drusilla grinned. “That too. Isn’t it delicious?”
Buffy shivered. “Not so much, no.”
“You can’t keep running from who you are. It’s not time for you to rest yet.”
Buffy was just gearing up to react to that when Harmony saved her by plonking a new bottle of white wine on the table. “Here you go, girls.”
Drusilla turned to look at Harmony. “You have no gifts.” She gestured at the wine. “Fill my goblet.”
“Fill it yourself,” Harmony snarked, before refilling Buffy’s and then her own, and placing the bottle somewhere Drusilla had to crawl halfway across the table to reach it.
Buffy pinched herself again. Then she sighed, and started prying the story of Spike-as-a-ghost out of Harmony. It was slow and painful, and most of what she said about their relationship sounded sketchy in the extreme, but Buffy had risen above reacting to it. Drusilla seemed to have forgotten Spike had ever been hers.
“So let me get this straight: they went on some crazy suicide mission and only the God-King of the bodysnatchers survived?” Buffy asked incredulously. She craned her neck to see if she could see said bodysnatcher and glare at her … him … whatever. So tacky showing up to the funeral pretending to be what’s-her-face. And her poor parents!
Harmony nodded vigorously, glowing inside at finally finding an appreciative audience for her Illyria-gossip.
“Angelus is alive,” Drusilla said gravely.
“He’s not,” Harmony snapped. “He’d be here if he was.”
“Maybe he’s hurt somewhere,” Buffy said. “Or, you know, stuck, what with the daylight and all.”
Harmony shrugged. “I got a room here last night. No reason he couldn’t do the same.”
“He called me,” Drusilla insisted.
“You said,” Buffy said wearily. “When was that, exactly?”
Drusilla gave her a look worthy of Spike at his most annoyed. “Yesterday? Or maybe tomorrow.”
“Do you even have a phone?” Harmony asked.
Drusilla dug a cell phone out from inside her cleavage, and placed it on the table triumphantly.
Buffy picked it up and flipped it open; the battery was flat. “When did you last charge this?”
Drusilla looked confused. “Grandmummy gave it to me.”
Buffy stared at her for a second. Darla had been dead, what, two years? “I’ll just take that as a ‘never’.” The phone was the same make as hers, so she got her own charger out of her purse. Then she took it and Drusilla’s phone, and went off in search of a socket. While doing so, Buffy hummed the opening few bars to The Twilight Zone. Just because.
Phone now plugged in a few feet away, Buffy came back to the table. “So what about Spike?”
Drusilla shrugged. “He cut the apron strings and fell. I can’t hear him anymore.”
Buffy shook her head. “I just can’t believe he spent a whole year as … as comic relief for Angel.” That certainly wasn’t the way Harmony put it, but Buffy could read between the lines.
Harmony shrugged. “Spike didn’t live in the building after he was touchable again. I’m not really sure what he did most of the time.”
“I thought you were ‘a regular Brad and Jennifer’.”
Harmony tittered. “Oh, Spikey and I never really talked much.”
Buffy blinked. Drusilla cackled.
“What?” Harmony seemed genuinely confused.
“I could never get him to shut up!” Buffy groaned.
Harmony didn’t look any less confused. “What did he say? I mean, the sex was amazing ‘cause his mouth was always full. Amiright?”
“My Spike could set the sky on fire with his lips and teeth and tongue,” Drusilla said dreamily. “I never missed the sunlight.”
Buffy’s stomach fluttered. “What she said.”
Harmony, finally clueing in, said, “You mean, he talked while you were having sex? He never said anything to me besides ‘shut up’.” Genuinely curious, she asked, “What did he say?”
The inside of Buffy’s head went something like: loveyouwantyousoperfectyesrightthereyesyespleaseloveyouloveyousogoodneverstopneedyou
“You smell,” Drusilla interjected, staring at Buffy’s lap. She looked up again, a smile lighting up her face. “Naughty.”
Buffy turned crimson. But she could still hear Spike in her head.
Sighing, Harmony said, “Fine! Don’t tell me then.” She had hoped this might actually turn into girl talk. She hadn’t had much opportunity for that recently, what with having sort of accidentally eaten her last BFF. She’d been really, really hungry at the time though, so it had kinda worked out.
“I asked him how he loved me, and he counted all the ways,” Drusilla cooed.
Harmony looked so hurt, Buffy found herself offering up a different memory: “He tied me up, sometimes.”
Harmony’s face only fell further. Buffy considered apologising, but before she got the chance, Drusilla was speaking again.
“He was my present to wrap and unwrap.” She looked slyly at Buffy. “He only ever trussed me up for you.”
The scent of juicy gossip cheered Harmony right up. “You two were with him together? I mean, I knew he was kinky, but….”
Buffy valiantly resisted the urge to hit her. “You were there, Harmony! You know we weren’t!”
Harmony frowned. Then remembered. “Oh! You mean when I dumped him the second time, and you two were just randomly there, hanging out?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, then.”
Drusilla cackled. “Where shall we three meet again? In dungeon, ballroom, or in pain?”
To her surprise, Buffy found herself turning to her and asking, “He never once tied you up, in all those years?” She’d always assumed Drusilla had taught him that; in fact, she was pretty sure he’d even said as much once.
Drusilla shook her head, eyes going slightly wild. “No.” She kept on shaking her head, seemingly lost in a memory. “It’s not nice. Not nice at all.”
Despite herself, Buffy felt a certain kinship. She still felt physically sick if anyone ever called her ‘lover’.
“So what are your rules about threesomes?” Harmony chirped.
Buffy opened her mouth and then closed it again. “You have rules?”
Harmony nodded. “You know, what you’re willing to do and what – or who – you’re not. Like, I’ll do boy-boy-girl, but definitely not girl-girl-boy.” She paused. “I used to have an exception for Charlize Theron, but then she did Monsterand….” Harmony shuddered. “Just no.”
Buffy nodded sagely. “I used to have this fantasy about Spike and Angel wrestling in oil.” ‘Used to’ was a bit of a reach, but she wasn’t willing to admit to more in this company.
“Sorry.” Harmony made a face. “I just don’t get the Angel thing.”
Drusilla clapped her hands gleefully while staring very pointedly at Buffy. “All slippery and thrusting. Yum.”
Buffy felt a spike of jealousy. Ha. For which she immediately wanted to bang her head against the table. She took a very large sip of wine and inhaled a cheese puff.
Harmony, oblivious to the subtext, just sighed. “Spikey never seemed very interested in that kind of thing, though.”
Drusilla, licking her lips like she’d just polished off the world’s best canary, shut her eyes and started humming. Bitch.
“Did you and Darla ever…?” Buffy asked, wanting desperately to imagine something other than Drusilla intruding on one of her favourite sexual fantasies.
Drusilla’s eyes popped open. “Mustn’t speak of it,” she said coldly.
“That means ‘ye-es’,” Harmony sing-songed. “Who with?”
“The Immortal,” Drusilla whispered, voice dreamy but eyes hard as granite.
Buffy choked while trying to inhale another cheese puff. Clearly all the men in her life had slept with Drusilla first. Well, except for Riley. Although the way the afternoon was going, Buffy wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out she’d sucked his blood.
Harmony patted her on the back. There were going to be bruises later, but at least it stopped the choking. “Th-thanks,” Buffy grunted.
“So … what about role play? You know, pretending to be other people?” Harmony asked brightly. There was nothing but blank looks from both Buffy and Drusilla. “Right,” Harmony faltered. “Just me then.”
“Public places?” Buffy asked tentatively.
Harmony seemed relieved. “Like in front of the minions?”
“Um.” Buffy took a gulp of wine. “More like the balcony at the Bronze?” Just saying the words made parts of her clench and tremble and her face flush bright red.
Now Harmony was scandalised. Buffy stopped herself before she mentioned the lawn outside her house.
Drusilla just smiled speculatively. “I like closets,” she hummed. “Shhhhh.”
Clearly exhibitionism was another thing Buffy could no longer blame on Spike’s previous relationships. It had never once occurred to her that anything they did might have been theirs and theirs alone; she wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
“And biting,” Drusilla added, voice low and gravelly, before opening her mouth wide and snapping it shut again.
Harmony groaned in remembered pleasure.
“No,” Buffy said. “Absolutely not.”
Both vampires looked shocked.
“Never? ” Harmony said. “But biting is….”
Drusilla made the most obscene moan Buffy had ever heard in her entire life, head lolling around her shoulders. Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally had nothing on her. Nothing.
“What she said!” Harmony added excitedly.
“I’m the slayer!” Buffy exclaimed. “Biting is not okay.”
“You’re hardly the slayer anymore,” Harmony said witheringly. “There’s, like, hundreds now.”
“Thousands. And he never even suggested it,” Buffy said, hoping that would shut down this line of conversation.
“Spike suggested stuff to you?” Harmony asked tentatively.
Frowning, Buffy said, “Uh, yeah, all the time.”
“My deadly boy,” Drusilla cooed. “So creative.”
“Huh,” Harmony said, obviously surprised.
“Why did you keep going back to him?” Buffy asked. This conversation just felt more and more like car crash TV the longer it went on: painful, but somehow addictive.
“He’s super-hot, duh!” Harmony retorted. “And he always made sure I came. Why else?”
“There’s more to a relationship than looks and orgasms,” Buffy said primly.
Harmony just looked confused. “Like what?”
“Whippings!” Drusilla said brightly.
“Ew,” Harmony said. “Totally not into that BSDM stuff.”
“BDSM,” Buffy corrected absently.
Drusilla picked up a cheese puff and Buffy watched in horrified fascination as she somehow ate it in two dainty bites without getting a single crumb of pastry on her dress.
Forcing her attention back to Harmony, Buffy said, “I meant intimacy. You know … seeing the best and the worst of each other. Wanting their happiness more than you want it for yourself.” She looked across at Drusilla. “Faithfulness.”
Drusilla was now staring at the ceiling, fascinated by something no one else could see. Buffy wondered idly if she was faking the crazy so she wouldn’t have to defend herself on the faithfulness thing.
Harmony, meanwhile, was concentrating hard. “So, like … fulfilling their fantasies instead of yours?”
“Kinda,” Buffy said. That might be as good as she got.
Harmony had that painful ‘thinking’ expression on her face again. “I did dump him for reasons…. All three times.”
Buffy nodded sagely, lips pressed tightly together.
Harmony looked across the room and gave a little wave. She then downed the last of her glass of wine and stood up. “I’m outta here.”
Buffy frowned. “How?” She pointed towards the window. “Isn’t Mr Sunshine kind of a barrier to free movement right now?”
Harmony grinned, then readjusted her cleavage like another woman might have her hair. “Luke Miller bought us this wine.” She gestured across the room. “He used to work at Wolfram and Hart and he has a red Maserati with necro-tempered glass. I just know he’d love to give me a ride home.” She licked her lower lip slowly before biting down on it gently. “Maybe dinner, too.”
Buffy nodded sagely. Wolfram and Hart (ex-)employees could look after themselves as far as she was concerned, retired or not. “Don’t you want to find out what’s going on with Angel and Spike?”
“I don’t care about Angel.” Harmony shrugged. “And I think it’s time I let Spikey go. I’m way too good for him.” Her grin slipped as she started backing away from the table. “You’re probably not, though. Too good for him, I mean. You know? Bye-eee!” Then she turned around and ran off towards Luke Miller, swinging her hips and working her drool-worthy Schiaparellis for all she was worth, leaving Buffy gaping.
“It’s almost time,” Drusilla said, little-girl-style anticipation making her squirm in her seat. The phone started ringing.
Buffy jumped out of her chair and ran for it. Well, crawled, really. It was plugged into a socket at skirting board level. “Hello?” she said breathlessly.
“Angel.” Buffy sat down rather abruptly against the wall. He really was alive.
“Buffy?! ” She’d never thought Angel was capable of squawking before. “Where the hell did you get that phone? ”
“Drusilla and I both came to Wesley’s funeral,” she said brightly. “So did Harmony. We’ve been drinking wine, catching up. Fun times.” It wasn’t nearly as sarcastic a statement as she wanted it to be.
There was a long silence from the other end of the line, then, “Someone held a funeral for Wes?”
Buffy couldn’t help it. She laughed.
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November 20, 2020 18:38