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 Angel's Secrets

Fanfiction Archive

The Pride

By Carla Kozak
©1999
writeangled(at)yahoo.com

Angel's Tattoo Contest Winner

Summary: How Angel may have obtained his tattoo.
Disclaimer: All the characters from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER are owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox Televisions, and the WB television network. I am merely a BTVS enthusiast who has woven these characters into a story of my own.

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"I made you. I taught you everything you know." Darla's girlish voice was soft and controlled-it held a note not of nagging, but of warning.

Angel, with a final splash of warm water from the basin, straightened up and grabbed a towel from the rack. He gave Darla a crooked grin.

"And if you taught me everything, I guess I'm just following your lead. What's the problem, Darla? We've both had dalliances before."

"This is no dalliance, lover," Darla quirked an eyebrow at him. "This is an obsession."

"Ah, an obsession. And from whom might I have learned that?" Angel took the towel from his shoulders and slipped it behind Darla's neck, drawing her to him. One hand combed through her blond hair, pulling her head back. He bent down to her, grazing her neck first with his lips, and then, lightly but firmly, with his teeth. He felt her shudder with pleasure. But then she tried to push him away.

"Don't flatter yourself," she said.

"I don't have to," he said, keeping her close. "I have so many who do it for me."

Darla wouldn't have been around for 300 years if she were stupid. She controlled her anger, realizing she was getting nowhere with it. Laughing instead, she decided to surrender to the moment, and why not? They had plenty of time to work out any little problems, and with luck and a bit of effort on Darla's part, that's all Drusilla would be. She snaked her arms around Angel's bare back, and let her nails bite into his flesh.

"Mmmmm," he sighed, lips close to her ear. "Good girl. Jealousy is fun at first, but it goes stale so quickly."

Darla realized with some dismay that she was the one who had been warned.

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Drusilla was in a very bad part of town.

She looked distinctly out of place, young and fragile, almost floating along the filthy, crooked streets near the docks of London. Her velvet cloak covered a gauzy white dress. Angel had given her the dress, and the blood-red cloak, and the pretty slippers. Angel gave her everything. Of course, first he'd taken away everything she had held dear, but that had been in her old life. Her new one was filled with so many wonders, so many things she'd not been allowed to see in the days before, that all the old memories were being tucked away in her deepest recesses. Not so deep that she couldn't pull them out if she had to, but far enough that they didn't interfere with her current pleasures.

Drusilla was aware of the leers she was getting from rough men standing in the shadows, and the hisses from a few of the whores who were hanging about, too. She smiled to herself. She had nothing to fear from them.

She found what she was looking for-a tiny, tucked-away place, with a lantern swaying outside the door that cast an eerie light on the decorated shingle. "Tattoos," she read, and opened the unlocked door.

A sailor was lying face up on a dirty table. A grizzled, stunted man leaned over his chest, pushing needles into the sailor's skin. He looked up.

"Well, look what the cat dragged in," he said, giving a low whistle. "Or is it the cat herself, coming for a little visit? Aren't you out a bit after your bedtime, sweetheart?" The sailor turned his head, too, and his eyes opened wide at the sight of Drusilla in the doorway.

"Not really," Drusilla purred. "May I come in?"

"Princess, I'd be honored to have you enter my humble abode," the man chuckled. "And if you're wanting me to do a design on that fair skin of yours, believe me, I'd create a masterpiece."

"I don't want a tattoo-not yet, anyway," Drusilla told him. "I want you to teach me how to make them."

Charlie, the tattoo artist, had been around in his day, and he'd seen a lot of strange things. It wasn't easy to surprise him, but this girl did. He gaped at her.

"Eh, Charlie, do it," grunted the sailor. "She can practice on me. I'd rather have those pretty white fingers poking into me skin than yer ham hocks, any day!"

"You've got a point, Gobber. Princess could be a bit of an asset to my business, come to think. Sure-you want to learn the art of the tattoo, I'm the one to teach you. Name's Charlie-what's yours?"

"Drusilla," she told him. "You've made a very wise decision, Charlie. I can be nasty if I don't get what I want." Charlie looked at her, smooth dark hair framing a pale, delicate face that resembled a saint from a medieval tapestry. Then he looked a bit closer, and his sharp gaze saw the odd glint in the girl's gold-flecked eyes, the faint twist of her lush mouth. He knew madness when he saw it, and he knew it was best to go along with its whims.

"You and me'll get along fine, Princess Drusilla. I'll teach you what you want to know, and you'll give a bit of a financial boost to my parlor. We'll help each other-fair deal?" Charlie held out a huge, reddened hand.

She took it in both of her slim, fragile ones. "Deal," she grinned.

Her hands were cold as ice.

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Drusilla had seen her first tattoos a few weeks into her changed life. They were among the many things she had learned that surprised and delighted her.

She had lured in the man, and Angel had come up from behind to make the kill. The man's last sight had been a vision of Drusilla's lovely face turning into that of a vampire, as she had bared her teeth and ripped open his waistcoat and shirt with an unnatural strength. The man had been a ship owner. There was clipper ship on his chest, and anchors on his biceps, each with a name above it-Wind Eagle, Windy Day and White Wind, the three fairest in his line. He would get no more pleasure, or income, from them.

Drusilla was charmed by what she saw.

"Angel, look at the pretty pictures on him! How did he do that?" she asked.

"They're called tattoos, Dru. The inks get pricked into the skin with needles, and the pictures are there to stay."

"Ooh," Drusilla sighed. "Does it hurt?"

"I've heard it does," Angel said, grinning at her. "My little Dru likes pain, doesn't she?"

"I like pretty pictures," she replied, but her eyes were sparkling at the thought of a beauty that didn't come without pain. She knew immediately that her Angel should have a tattoo-and she wanted to be the one to give it to him. She would find out how to do that, somehow.

Drusilla had no talent for art. When she took up a charcoal and tried to create a picture, her sketches were unformed and childlike. But she had a steady hand. She could embroider a pattern or paint within a stenciled design. Angel could draw. He had only to look at an object, and his hand could bring it to life on paper or canvas. He put his skill to good use. Their kinsmen, no longer visible in mirrors, still had their vanity. They begged Angel to sketch them. He'd painted many pictures of Darla, and of Dru.

Indeed, that was one of the ways he had enticed her to him. Angel had felt a fascination for Drusilla from the first, as she'd breathlessly confessed to fearing her second sight to him, thinking him a priest. He'd followed her in secret, learning her whereabouts and her habits, and then one evening, sitting on a bench under a gaslight, he had sketched her as she played in a park.

Drusilla had been dancing among the flowerbeds, alone in her private world. She didn't stop until, whirling, she'd almost tripped over his easel. "Oh, sir, I am sorry," she'd said to him, with an embarrassed smile. "May I see what you are painting? I love looking at pictures."

"Of course," Angel said, smiling back at her. "I think you'll like what you see." He turned the easel toward her, and in the gentle glow of the street lamp, she saw herself, delicate as a sprite, captured on his sketchpad.

"You've made me look so pretty!" Drusilla exclaimed in delight.

"I can only paint what I see," he answered. "It's you who allowed me to sketch something beautiful. Would you like it?"

"Oh, may I?" she breathed.

"Yes," he said, "though I will miss looking at it myself. You will have to let me draw you again sometime-and properly, on canvas, with oil paints."

And so, through his drawings, Angel had gained entrance to Drusilla's heart and to her home. He had charmed all of her family; he was so handsome, and obviously he had wealth. He could only spare the time to paint in the evenings, he had explained. It was what he loved to do, but it was just a hobby. He had other work keeping him busy during the day.

Drusilla felt Angel saw through her, in those paintings. Certainly they showed things about her that she had thought were secret. It was as if he peeled off all of her protective layers. Before long he did that in other ways, too. She was falling in love with him, longing to be with him as often as she could. Her mother set strict guidelines; never before had Drusilla not complied with them. But Angel whispered he needed more time with her; every time he sketched her, it only made him yearn to capture another pose. Soon they had worked out a way for him to enter her bedchamber, late at night when everyone was sleeping.

One night, hardly knowing what she did but knowing she had to do it, Drusilla slowly removed her nightgown as Angel painted. He hadn't asked her to do it. He'd been looking down, mixing his colors, and when he glanced up again she was lying naked on her little bed. She'd never felt so free, so right. And when Angel smiled at her, Drusilla was consumed with happiness.

He selected a clean brush from the jar, but instead of dipping it in the oils, he moved to her side. She felt the soft brush drift along her forehead, cheek and jaw, then continue its tickling path down her neck, and between and around her breasts. Drusilla gasped, arching her back, and Angel leaned toward her.

It was then that the door opened, and her mother stepped into the room.

Drusilla's face went ashen. "Mummy!" she whispered, frantically grabbing for the bedclothes. But Angel remained calm as he turned to face the furious woman.

"I was wondering when you would catch on, Anne," he said. "Frankly, I thought you would do it much sooner than this. What was it that blinded you to me-my looks, my charm, or my money?"

"You fiend," Drusilla's mother hissed. "You monster. I am sorry I didn't follow my suspicions from the first. How dare you prey on the innocence of my daughter?"

"Well, you see, it's what I do, Anne. Indeed, preying on innocents is my modus operandi. Often, I don't even care if they are innocent, charming though that is. I just prey." And Drusilla and her mother both stared in horror, as Angel's beautiful face turned into that of demon.

He turned to Drusilla, whispering: "Hush, not a word, my lovely. It would only bring the others. Let's let them live a bit longer, shall we?" Then he grabbed her mother, her sweet, protective little mum, and as Drusilla huddled in the farthest corner of her bed and watched in silence, Angel's fangs sliced through her mother's soft throat.

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Drusilla thought of that moment, a turning point in her life, as she selected the needle and the inks to work on a twisted and complicated dragon tattoo, but soon put it out of her mind, and attended to the task at hand. Charlie had started her on easier patterns, but she had caught on quickly, becoming more and more adept. The little parlor was crowded with both customers and onlookers every night now. The skill of the young, beautiful and obviously out-of-place tattoo artist was the talk of the docks. Drusilla laughed shyly at the bawdy jokes she heard, but said little. She worked liked a professional, speaking only if she needed to ask a question about the tattoos. No one had figured out where she came from, or where she went when, some time between midnight and dawn, she would put away the tools as Charlie had shown her, and say, "I must go now."

She fed nightly, but not in the open, and never too near the docks. Drusilla didn't want to arouse any more suspicion before she mastered her craft. She had been Angel and Darla's dutiful student, before she was Charlie's, and she was a credit to all of her teachers.

But her sire, and his, were wondering about her too. "Where do you think she slips away to, every night?" Angel asked, when he was going to suggest a visit to the theatre, and a hunt, and once again found only Darla to accompany him.

"She is probably working on a little surprise for you," Darla replied. "Let Drusilla be, Angel. She needs to learn independence, even as you did." In Darla's opinion, Angel had learned that all too well. He had a loner's inclination that still caught her unawares, as he regularly disappeared for weeks at a time. But he was with her now.

"Let's get away for the winter, shall we? I'm thinking Italy. The nights are so gentle on the Mediterranean," she said.

"It would be nice to get back to Italy," Angel agreed.

"Master is there," Darla continued, "so there will be plenty of parties to attend."

"I suppose it's time we paid our respects to him again," Angel said. "Drusilla can meet her great-grandsire. I think they'll like each other."

Damn Drusilla, Darla was thinking. But Angel was right; Drusilla was part of their clan now, and the Master enjoyed getting to know his children's children.

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Drusilla finished the dragon, to much applause. She wiped off her needles and with a grin, said, "so who's my next victim, then?" The little room was loud with laughter.

Her head bent over the table, Drusilla looked up through long eyelashes at a young man who'd been part of the crowd for the past several nights. He was a handsome one, with light hair and a wicked sneer in his smile. She wouldn't mind working on him. "You having a turn, sir?" she asked.

"Go to her, Spike," the others urged. "What's the matter? You dish out enough pain, can't you take a little in return?"

"I can take my lumps, and you know it," he answered. "But I'm having too grand a time just watching the Princess at her work."

"Yeah, it's something to see, ain't it?" the crowd was in general agreement. The one they called Spike had been observing Drusilla closely. Many customers had remarked on her cold hands. They said it was a shock at first, but then their skin numbed under them, and it was a blessing. But Spike saw that for all of her delicacy, Drusilla hit several nerves. Perhaps it was inevitable, but he didn't think so. He thought she did it on purpose, and he liked that she did.

She was talking to him again, in her pretty, musical voice. "Do you like games?" she asked.

"Well, that would depend on who was my partner, wouldn't it? I'd play any game with you, love. Yours for the asking, I am," Spike said.

Drusilla flashed him a smile, and returned to concentrating on her work. It was well past midnight when she finished the second tattoo, a heart with a ribbon tied around it in a bow, and her own name written on the ribbon. "Signed by the artist," said the stevedore she had tattooed. He flexed a huge biceps muscle, now adorned by a valentine to her.

"That's all I can do tonight," Drusilla said. "I must be off now." The crowd began to clear out.

"Charlie, can you get me a tattoo kit?" she asked the old man. "I can pay for it." Drusilla knew Angel would give her money if she wanted some.

"No need to pay, Princess," he said. "I've already got one set up for you, and it's a present from me. You've done me proud, and brought me more business than I ever thought I'd see. Stay with me, and I'll start you on a salary." He handed her a leather case, opening it to show her the supplies inside.

"Ooh, it's perfect, Charlie. It's just what I wanted. But I can't stay. I've learned what I needed. Thank you." Drusilla kissed his grizzled cheek.

"I won't look a gift horse in the mouth. We both stuck to our bargain. I'll miss you." Charlie said, shocked to find that he was blushing.

"It's a blessing that I'm going on my way, Charlie, trust me on that," she said, putting on her cloak and heading out the door.

"Princess!" Charlie called her back, and she turned to him. "Watch out for that Spike, now. William is his real name-some calls him William the Bloody. He's a bad 'un. You keep yer distance from him, right?"

"Don't worry, Charlie. He can't hurt me." Drusilla blew him another kiss, and was gone.

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Angel awakened well before sunset the next day, and even in the shuttered room he could tell that it was horribly bright outside. Darla was still asleep beside him. He had worked up an appetite with her earlier, but there wasn't a thing he could do about it for several hours. He left their bed and began wandering around the house, looking for something that would let him forget his hunger for a while.

Angel was pleased to find Drusilla up, too. She was looking at a little book of pictures, but she raised her head immediately to smile at him.

"Angel," she asked, "if you were to get a tattoo, what would it look like?"

"Hello, Dru, my little love. What have you been up to?" Angel greeted her, tugging on a lock of her dark hair.

"Just playing," she said. "I have some new toys, and I've learned a new game, dearest. Will you play with me?"

"Anything to get my mind off my stomach before nightfall," he said, sitting down beside her on the horsehair sofa that faced the fireplace. "Is this a tattoo kit? Do you want a tattoo, Dru?"

"No, I want to give you one. I've learned how, Angel. I could do a beautiful picture on your beautiful skin. But I don't know what the picture should be," Drusilla's lower lip trembled, and her eyes filled with tears. "None of the patterns seem right for you."

Angel put his arm around her shoulder and hugged her close. "No crying now, Dru. Remember you promised me more smiles. Where's my sketchpad? I'll see if I can come up with something that suits your fancy."

She gave him a shaky smile, and brushed away a tear. "Would you, Angel?"

"I can't think of a better way to wait for sunset," he said, balancing the sketchpad on his lap, and picking up a stick of charcoal.

Half an hour later, the floor was littered with paper, and Drusilla sat cross-legged among the sketches, admiring them all but not yet seeing the right one. Angel was humming as he worked on another design. "How about this one, honey? I think it's my favorite." He handed the tablet to her.

"Oh, Angel, this is the one! It's perfect!" Drusilla squealed in delight.

Angel had drawn a winged lion, in a design that could have graced a Celtic bestiary. It had beautiful feathers and a curling mane, and the extended claws of its crossed paws grasped a handsome letter A.

"Would you let me put this into your skin, Angel? I can do it, truly I can." Drusilla knelt at his feet and gazed at him imploringly.

"Why not? I like the design too. It seems right to me. Sure, Dru-I've marked you, it would only be fair to have you put your mark on me."

"Where shall I put it?" she asked, laying a cloth on the table, and picking up the sketch, and her kit.

Angel pulled his shirt off. "You choose the place," he said.

Drusilla turned to him. She ran her fingers lightly up his arms, and across his chest. Then she trailed them over his shoulders, and stepped behind him. She placed her hand flat against his right shoulder blade. "Here," she said.

"I won't be able to see it there, Dru," he protested.

"Then it truly will be mine," she said.

Angel understood. He had done things to her that he would never see. "I'm in your hands," he said.

The sun had just set when Darla came into the room, wrapped in her kimono. She saw Angel lying prone on their dining table, and Drusilla pushing a needle into his skin. "What ever are you children doing?" she asked.

"Dru is putting her mark on me," Angel said, gritting his teeth. It hurt like hell, and he was almost certain it didn't have to be quite that painful. "Or rather, she's putting my mark on me, since I designed it."

Drusilla was smiling, and singing softly as she worked. She loved the feel of Angel's skin under her fingers; she loved watching his muscles flinch every time she hit a nerve.

It was perfect, she reflected. Angel was their lion; she and Darla were his pride. Darla was the mother, and she was the daughter. They hunted together, and shared their kills. And when the time and the situation both were right, they would make new family members to strengthen the pride.

"Why Drusilla!" Darla exclaimed, coming over to look at her work, "you've done a beautiful job. Is that what you've been doing every night? Didn't I tell you, Angel, that she was planning a surprise for you? Aren't you the clever one, dear!"

To the untrained ear, Darla sounded pleased for Drusilla, as though they were indeed a happy family. But Drusilla caught the jealous undertone. It made her smile even more.

He's going to kill her some day, she realized. The scene had flashed inside her head as she probed his smooth scapula. Angel would kill Darla, and he'd be happy that she was dead.

Drusilla saw a vision of the future even as she gave herself a permanent link to Angel's body. She had seen parts of the vision once before, but more was revealed to her now. Would he always hold her so close to his heart, she wondered? Because some day-not right away, but a few years down the road-Angel was going to leave them, and not for one of those solitary jaunts he sometimes took. No, this would be a true separation, and Darla would help bring it on, albeit by accident. Their family, their pride, would be torn asunder.

Dru had no desire to be alone, and she certainly didn't want to hang about with Darla, who hated her. She had a sense that the Master, whom she was soon to meet, would like her, and that he'd be happy to make her his little pet. But she also sensed that he and his minions would give her a nasty, roiling feeling deep in her tummy. She didn't want to spend any more time with them than was necessary for the sake of family.

Drusilla needed a pet of her own. She'd been searching for one since her first glimpse of these future events, and she knew immediately when she had found him. He was the pretty young man who liked watching her at Charlie's place-the one who told her he wanted to be her partner. The one they called Spike.

Drusilla smiled dreamily. She would take another walk to the docks as soon as she was done making Angel's tattoo. At first she had thought he would be just a toy, but now she was certain that she and Spike were meant to be together.

"I'm finished with you, Angel my sweet," she said, patting his back. "It's beautiful-it looks just like you." Drusilla gathered up her tools and tossed them into the leather box. Then she wandered off, looking for her cloak. Where had she left it this time, she wondered?

"Dru, where are you going? Don't you want to feed with us?" Angel asked.

"Not tonight," she said, already out the door. "I have someone to meet."

Finis

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