It was never quite the same, after Prague.

 

They were in Berlin for a while, and she draped their apartment in lace and gypsy fabrics with tassels, and during the day didn't sleep much, but sat and preened in front of the huge yellowing antique mirror in their bedroom. Between 1935 and 1939 Dru spent hours in front of mirrors.

 

Spike would lie face down, diagonally across their bed, head buried in pillows to avoid the buzzing electric light, and slide in and out of sleep listening to her muttering to her dolls, brushing her hair, filing her nails.

 

She wore her hair up a lot, and liked to wear rather prim housewifely dresses with polka dots. She would sit and stare through herself to the reflected room beyond, and when he glanced up, Spike always wondered if she was actually seeing herself reflected there.

 

They had gone to Germany after Hitler was voted in. Dru had visions, nothing too threatening, just of power and the thrill of it all, and insisted that she wanted to be in Berlin. Anywhere was better than Prague, he agreed. She still hadn't recovered, and Spike didn't quite know what to do. He'd have asked Darla, but had no idea where she'd disappeared to after Shanghai. Buggered off, just like Angelus.

 

“I want to go dancing,” she said one night, twirling in front of the mirror, silk negligee swirling around her thighs.

 

“Don't know where there is to go, love,” he said. He knew she wasn't up to it.

 

“Yes you do,” she said, pouting. “You go out and come back and smell like girls and smoke and chatter chatter chatter. I want to go out.” She stamped her foot and her curls bounced.

 

“You do go out, Dru. We went out hunting just last night.”

 

She sat down with a thump in front of the mirror. “Food. That's all it is, and I'm not even hungry. I want to dance and be merry.” Her eyes glazed over, and she pulled the corner of her pale shawl. A silky thread came away, unraveled along the hem.

 

“Fine, let's go then,” he said, and carried her home an hour later, when she fell asleep on the steps of a government building while he was catching her a meal.

 

***

 

He liked watching her get dressed, even if it was only for around the house. It was quite a palaver, although not as bad as at the turn of the century. Spike never liked bustles, but he liked the new silk stockings. Watching Dru as she pulled them up her legs and clipped the suspender belt, dark flesh coloured and plain, almost serviceable, standing out against the pale flesh of her thighs. They reminded him of the serving girls when he was a teenager, lusting after them in their plain work-clothes, and staring through the banisters as they knelt to polish the hall floors - searching for a glimpse of ankle.

 

She came over to him and put her foot on the bed, by his head.

 

“Kiss it,” she said with her nose in the air - a princess.

 

He kissed it.

 

He marvelled over her modern zippers, and when she asked him to ‘do her up', hair held over her shoulder and a coy look thrown back at him, he always took his time, did it over and over, up and down, getting a thrill every time the plain fold of her camisole came into view. Part of him was that little boy, seducing the maid.

 

Spike thought in quiet moments that the mirrors were maybe a regression. She'd nearly died in Prague, after all. Maybe she was reliving being human. How old would she be now, if she were alive? he wondered once as he lay face down on their bed. Eighty or ninety he guessed. Well past death-age. She'd be wrinkled and her skin would be loose and her teeth rotten and her hair grey and thin.

 

When he thought things like that, he had to sit up and check, make sure she was still there, as perfect and lush as ever. He wondered if the reflection she saw in the mirror was of that old woman. Sometimes she'd examine her teeth for hours.

 

***

 

Spike hated Germany during this period. Everyone was so poor; it was no fun at all. They all tasted thin and reedy, under-nourished. The part of Spike's brain that always sounded like his father lecturing him talked about economics and reparations and hyper-inflation. His stomach just said it was hungry.

 

As winter came on Dru didn't like to go outside at all, rarely pleaded for dances, never for food, and Spike watched her as she sat wrapped in shawls and blankets and bedclothes and insisted that she was cold.

 

“But we don't feel the heat love,” he tried telling her, but she ignored him and pulled the lace throw off her dressing table, taking her face powder down with it, spilling all over the floor like a cloud-burst.

 

He felt like he was watching her decompose. It seemed wrong, somehow, that she looked so healthy even as she was so ill. She had no strength, would swoon and faint. She hardly slept, and when she did it was so deeply that he would sometimes have to wake her because she looked so completely dead, although he knew it was stupid.

 

Sometimes he woke in the day to find her weeping in the bath, the water cold and chalky. Folded in over herself, arms curled into her stomach, and making no sound. One night he pulled her out, hands under her armpits, and fetched a towel that had been lying over the radiator in the bathroom. He scrubbed her dry, lending her body the borrowed heat, and took her back to bed with him. She was passive, hardly even there, and let him manhandle her, wrap himself around her in the sheets, the towel twisted with them and slowly cooling. He knew she didn't go back to sleep, though. She lay there staring at the ceiling, at the dust and flaky wallpaper patterns, then the mirror, and their empty bed.

 

***

 

“You know, people say the ravens first went to the Tower of London because of the heads rotting on pikes,” he said, to make her smile.

 

“Heads? On pikes?”

 

“Yeah, all along the wall they were, impaled. Traitors and blasphemers or whatever. Rotting away.”

 

She considered this, her head on one side, hairbrush paused. “We should go there.”

 

“Well it was quite a long time ago, Dru.”

 

After Germany it was France and Paris and the threat of invasion. During the nights in Berlin, when she wasn't going out at all, Dru would sit in the windows and listen out for anything fun happening, any SA activity that usually spelled mayhem and violence. In Paris she missed this, but vibrated instead to the hum of imminent war, which rang through the populace like a bell and made them taste all the sweeter, she insisted.

 

She started to cut herself there, and he hated that more than anything else. People believe that because vampires like pain, that all pain is good. Spike would walk into the apartment with a nice fresh young thing for Dru to nibble on and find her passed out on the couch, arms flung out, blood running onto the carpet freely. He'd never felt worse. The blood traced the veins from the outside, crimson and beautiful, rich and delicious, and he chanted in his head, “Shouldn't have left her alone, shouldn't have left her alone.”

 

On good nights she would play the wireless until it went off air, and he would spin her around the apartment to ‘I can't give you anything but love, baby'. She would smile and bend backwards over his arm, her sheer dresses hanging off her and showing ribs, breasts, very little flesh.

 

***

 

They both dreamt, and the disparity of their dreams drove a stake between them more surely than anything else. Dru screamed sometimes, and then laughed, sometimes she talked in her sleep, had entire conversations snatched from when she was alive and sane, and often called for Angelus. He knew she was dreaming of her death, and sometimes her life.

 

She would sing: “Oranges and lemons

Say the bells of St Clements

You owe me five farthings

Say the bells of St Martins

When will you pay me?

Say the bells of Old Bailey

When I grow rich

Say the bells of Shoreditch

When will that be?

Say the bells of Stepney

I'm sure I don't know

Says the great bell at Bow

Here comes a candle to light you to bed

Here comes a chopper to chop off your head

Chop chop chop chop the last man's head clean right off!”

 

Spike dreamt of those servant girls, spread out before him, and of biting thigh, wrist, breast, waist, dotting their bodies with blood and cuts, feasting on their curves. Unbearably erotic dreams of vast lakes of these women and their blood, their flirtatious teasing glances and giggling bodies split open for his pleasure. He would wake up panting and aroused, and sometimes when he woke he was on Dru, pulling her, pushing her, hurting her, wanting her.

 

“Do you want me?” he would breathe across her. She wouldn't reply, but stared at the mirror - watching the sheets move, if nothing else.

 

He wasn't sure she was strong enough for sex, but sometimes he couldn't help himself, wanting her all the time, wanting to pull her in and devour her. She would lie back with a slight smile as he worked in her, not passive, not active. And nowadays she could only come if he hurt her, which used to be fun, but became less so when it turned into necessity. At those moments, she would close her eyes and move her lips, singing sometimes, giggling, calling him Angelus, cutting him with her nails on his back.

 

Sometimes he went out and got laid elsewhere. He knew that he'd never be able to keep it a secret from Dru – one good sniff – but he also knew that he couldn't last much longer and he didn't want to force himself on her. He went to nightclubs and drank cheap alcohol, slept with uninteresting pretty girls with lacy garter belts, and only ever picked the ones with dark hair, so sometimes he could close his eyes and try to pretend they were Dru. He never slept with men, even the dark-haired ones.

 

One night he came home and found Dru drunk, blouse unbuttoned and hanging off one shoulder, sitting in the middle of the living room on the floor. She swayed and smiled at his return, and made him describe the girl and the sex in detail. He stroked her arms and lied to her, made it dull and tasteless, instead of what it actually was: surprisingly illicit and dark and delicious. He didn't want to admit it, even to himself: he sometimes wanted those blank, anonymous girls more than Dru nowadays. With their cherry lipstick, dark eye-make-up, and French accents they seemed helplessly exotic and rare.

 

***

 

She so rarely had visions now that they came as a surprise, whereas before when she had been healthy, he had almost expected them. They used to make her smile in delight, but now they upset her, she would keen and hold her head and mutter about insects and death and darkness.

 

And then one night in 1939 she stared into the mirror above their fireplace. She liked the flames and seemed to be watching them flicker over her skin in the reflection, except, of course, there wasn't one. She picked up a statuette of a slender, boyish flapper with a little dog at her heels and weighed it in her hands, lightly. Then she leant back and threw it at the mirror, which shattered spectacularly, scaring Spike out of his light doze and cutting her all over with flecks of glass.

 

That night she had a vision of America, sparkling and new, and they set off again.

 

 

The End