1. Once upon a time, she’d given all the stars the same name. Now, Drusilla was close enough to see the differences between them. She and the Doctor had visited dry worlds and drowned worlds and worlds that were green — and blue, and gold, and silver, and crimson — with exotic vegetation. Every night held a new adventure. (And, one day, they’d find a sun she could walk under. The Doctor had promised.)
“Arcadia is famous for its diamonds,” he told her, as he surveyed a mountain chain that stretched out in front of him like a stolen necklace. The faint tinge of colour, the last traces of the sunset, could have been the splashes of blood. “In fact, the whole planet is essentially a great big diamond. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine the pressure that … Drusilla?”
The grass — growing on fragmented soil that gleamed in the starlight and the moonlight — had been too soft to resist. She’d sprawled out on it, limbs outstretched, like a princess reclining on a bed without having to worry about the pea beneath the sheets.
“Look at the clouds,” she breathed, “I can see London.”
Diamonds were common, but a window into the past — a true window, a world away from the door provided by the TARDIS — was rare. He didn’t understand, but, eventually, the Doctor sat down beside her to try and find Tower Bridge.
2. He could visit any star he wanted to see. He could tie the universe into knots and untangle it at his leisure. He was powerful and he was free and Drusilla would never understand why the Doctor insisted on visiting museums.
“This isn’t just any museum, Drusilla,” said the Time Lord, as his vampiric companion tapped impatiently on the door of a glass case containing some sort of mummy. It didn’t move. They hadn’t wrapped it up properly and the last shreds of life had escaped through the bandages. “This is the museum. A definitive history of the Earth and its civilisations, built on the edge of New New York and filled with treasures from every corner of the planet.”
Drusilla canted her head and allowed the Doctor to lead her through winding corridors containing suits of armour and ticking clocks and chipped statues. She laughed out loud at the instruments of torture, peering closely at the thumb screws and the chains and trying to imagine the faces of the people who had demonstrated them. They stepped from century to century without the aid of the TARDIS and it wasn’t until they reached the last days of Earth that Drusilla realised something rather important.
“We’re not here,” she said, with a fleeting look at the blue prints of the famous Bowie Base. “All our centuries and we’re still not here.”
“We … oh, you mean the vampires?”
(He still hated that word, she noted. It was bitter on his tongue, a trace of old prejudices that he’d never truly wash away.)
“This is all human.”
“Well, you know what humans are like. They’ll always be their own top priority.”
“Are vampires ever anything other than a secret?”
She had no particular desire to be remembered — she’d left her stamp, in Spike and in the wicked deeds they’d performed — but her family deserved more than silence. They were more specks of dust and distant glimmers of distant horrors.
“I don’t know.”
But they hadn’t left Earth. The human race had moved forward, leaving their old demons behind as they made their way to the stars. Drusilla knew that, suddenly and sharply, and it hurt more than she would have expected.
“We’re both the last.”
The last, but not quite alone.
3. The space station made her head ache. She massaged her temples as she followed the Doctor down the corridors. The sleek steel reminded her of the tin soldiers. The staff — all dressed up in white lab coats and sensible shoes — reminded her of a hospital. A hospital or a mad house. It was a shining future version of the building her mother had once wanted to lock her in. If she lost her focus, she’d lose herself.
She kept close to the Time Lord. They were hunting a creature that lurked in the walls and scared the life out of the people that spotted it. It was her responsibility — a responsibility she’d taken on without realising it or wanting it — to make sure that the Doctor stayed safe. He was good at getting himself into trouble, but sometimes he forgot how to get back out. (He was a lot like her Spike that way, bless their hearts.)
If she lost him, there’d be no point in trying to hold herself together.
It wasn’t fair. He was the Doctor. He made other people better but he’d made her sick. Even tearing the throat out of the monster — not a snake, not a worm, but something in between, all teeth and spikes and slime — and making him cross didn’t make Drusilla feel better. He forgave her, because he’d thought she’d been trying to help.
4. The Doctor took Drusilla to Prague to see Mozart. Prague because it was one of her favourite cities — she’d told him as much, though she hadn’t mentioned the nunnery that she’d almost been locked up in or the mob that had sent her and Spike running to Sunnydale — and Mozart because he’d never got around to meeting him. The Doctor was drawn to geniuses. The vampire supposed that he’d been drawn to her for a similar reason. Genius and madness often overlapped and he was so old that he occasionally forgot how to tell the difference.
She liked music, but, most of the time, the music that humans played fell short of Drusilla’s expectations. She heard the song of the stars — sometimes in her head, sometimes up close — and, until Mozart, she’d never expected to hear it from anyone else. He wove the threads of the notes together to create the most beautiful pictures Drusilla had ever seen.
Leaning forward, she drank in every drop until the concert had run dry and the applause was all she had left. She stood up to clap, like a child at a play, her eyes shining. The Doctor jumped to his feet as well — of course, of course — and soon they were all up, though they knew he hadn’t written an encore.
Don Giovanni. Even the name was beautiful.
She lingered in the lobby afterwards. It had been so long that it took her a moment to realise what she was waiting for.
“No!” exclaimed the Doctor, who had remembered the same thing at the same time, “You can’t eat him. He hasn’t even written ‘The Magic Flute’ yet!”
She pouted at him. Maybe later, then.
5. “The red planet,” exclaimed the Doctor, throwing open the door of the TARDIS and striding out into the unknown. His space suit was heavy and a little ungainly — Drusilla, who didn’t have to breathe and didn’t need one of her own, had teased him about it — but he moved with the lightness that came from anticipation. A new adventure, a new challenge, a new game.
Drusilla was an expert on red. Before she’d met the Doctor, she’d seen a hundred shades of crimson from a hundred different throats. (Now, he replicated blood for her. The bottles were lined up neatly, like little soldiers, in the fridge. One day, she’d grow tired of meals that she couldn’t hunt. She knew that the Doctor would be ever so cross, if he survived.)
“’The orange planet’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.”
Her lips curved into a wicked smile, all sharp edges and flashing teeth.
“You like names that tell lies,” she said, pointedly referring to the false name he’d taken for himself. The Time Lord tensed and, when he did, an amused Drusilla set off across the planet’s surface in search of the war that Mars had been named for. He was a clever boy, but he needed someone to keep him on his toes.
6. The horses churned up the ground — already a soup of mud and blood and broken dreams — with their hooves as they galloped. The knights sweated in their armour. Their hands clutched the lances that had the potential to pave the way to victory and threatened to tip the scales in favour of life or death or injury.
Drusilla — in a gown of white and gold, just like the princess they thought she was — watched from a position of honour. One of the knights had her favour, a dainty little handkerchief, tied to one arm. The other was wicked, even if he did ride a white horse. He’d been telling lies and sewing the seeds of evil schemes and the challenge had been issued after a particularly nasty comment he’d made.
Although they were jousting for the future of the kingdom, Drusilla was more interested in whether or not the good knight, the favoured knight, would defend her honour successfully.
They met in the middle. For a moment, there was nothing but the splintering crack of wood and the clash of metal and the hum of tension in the arena. Then, slowly, as if he was tumbling through treacle, the dark knight fell from his horse.
As the crowd cheer and a stable boy attempted to a riderless horse that didn’t want to stop, the white knight trotted up to the dais and pulled off his helmet. His hair was tousled and his lance had been shattered, but his smile was as wide as she’d ever seen it.
“My brave knight,” Drusilla purred, holding out a hand for him to kiss.
“My lady,” replied the Doctor, grinning.
7. It was the second time that Drusilla had joined the crowds to welcome in the new millennium.
Last time, she and Spike had been in London. They’d stood on the bridge and watched the fireworks, feasting on revellers that had been turned sweet by the alcohol in their veins and the excitement in their chests.
This time, she and the Doctor were in Australia. The Sydney Opera House glowed and their upturned faces flickered beneath the myriad of colours. It was like standing in the centre of a rainbow. The people around them were noisy, and a part of her would always want to silence their noisy little pulses, but the Doctor took her hand and the bloodshed could wait.
She didn’t like living in a straight line anymore.
They counted down together. The Time Lord and the vampire and the humans that would never realise the nature of the company they kept.
At midnight, she gave him a chaste kiss — a kiss of joy and gratitude and friendly affection — on the lips and laughed to see his wide eyes and his blushes. He was so old, but he was still so young.
8. Sometimes — and this was a terrible secret, far too terrible to share — Drusilla dreamed about dying. Not a sleeping dream or a waking dream, but an in between dream. A dream that flickered at the edge of her consciousness and crept in behind her eyelids.
She would see something in the Doctor snap, with a crash and a crunch and a spark of flame. The anger of a Time Lord was a terrible thing to behold, even when it came from your imagination. He’d stake her for the good of the universe. Part of him enjoyed it.
She would see an enemy — not fully formed, no, but not quite faceless — closing in. She drifted away, just dust on the breeze, to give the Doctor a chance to defeat him. It. Him. An old friend and a beloved enemy.
She would see a dying TARDIS. The sounds of life had faded with the Doctor’s death. All Drusilla could do was sit with a hand on the console, murmuring nonsense words of comfort and waiting for them to fall into the heart of the nearest supernova and join him.
Three paths. The universe hadn’t decided which one they’d take, but it would come down to three terrible, hopeless choices in the end.
When they visited Woman Wept, the false layers finally peeled away. Drusilla finally saw what was to come and fell to her knees and cried. The Doctor thought she was weeping for the woman that had been frozen in the water. She didn’t have the heart to break his, so she kept her lips sealed.
9. “I told you I’d find one.” The Doctor’s smile was full of pride. His hand rested on the door handle and, although Drusilla couldn’t see it, she could almost feel the sunlight that waited just outside the TARDIS. Unable to help herself, the vampire shivered in anticipation. It had been so long since she’d seen it. The daylight. Was it beautiful? Had something changed? “A sun that won’t harm you!”
“You’re not playing a game with me?” she asked, a little warily. The Doctor could have killed her a thousand times, but she knew that he liked — or had been forced to, she wasn’t sure — watch things that he loved burn. Planets and people. She didn’t want to be another thread in that particular tapestry.
“What? No, of course I’m not! This isn’t the time for a game. It’s the time for a holiday.”
He held out a hand. Drusilla counted four heart beats — hearts beats, because he’d greedily helped himself to two — before taking it. Just to show that she was still her own vampire.
The Doctor flung opened the door.
The sunlight washed over her like a wave of ... oh, she didn’t have the words. No language had the words. It was warm and it was beautiful and she raised her face to drink in the strangeness of it all.
“Welcome to Florana, Drusilla. One of the most beautiful planets in the universe.”
He led her down to the sea. Warm milk, lapping against sand that was as soft as a feather and the colour of honey. The air was thick with the scent of flowers. She could have stayed there forever, but the Doctor didn’t believe in forevers. A weekend would have to do.
“What do you think?” he asked. He’d found it. He needed to know that he’d done well.
“It’s like walking through the heart of star!”
“Although that would, technically, kill you, I think I’m going to take that as a compliment ...”
10. The smell of fear in the air was intoxicating, just as it had been before. The night sky was darkened by smoke and warmed by the flicker of flames in the distance. She’d remembered that, but she hadn’t remembered the blue box in the shadows or the silent Time Lord who reached out a hand for his companion’s.
She didn’t take it, not yet. Instead, Drusilla turned her head and gave the Doctor a quizzical look. It was deliciously violent here — war and panic and scores of humans that truly believed they could run away from the hungry monsters snapping at their heels — but he didn’t like that. He didn’t savour the wounds he witnessed, any more than he savoured the wounds he caused.
The Boxer Rebellion was a strange place for a holiday.
“Are we going to take tea?” she asked, with the playful smile of a girl who was waiting for the punch line of a joke. (The Doctor had such a knack for telling them. If he’d stretched his wings, he could have laughed at the entire universe.)
“Shush,” he cautioned, dropping his hand back to his side, “I’m breaking half a dozen laws to bring you here …”
“Wicked Doctor,” she crooned, though he wasn’t. Not really and in spite of Drusilla’s careful lessons. He wasn’t listening, so the vampire turned her head back to the smoke and the crowds. Underneath the screams, she could hear the hum of the TARDIS and the double pulse of the Time Lord beside her. After a moment, however, she realised exactly why he’d taken her to China and closed her ears to anything other than the four vampires that cut a bloody path through the firelight and the moonlight and the frightened people.
Angelus, her beautiful bad Daddy, led the group. His soul was all new — how had she missed it at the time? — and it hadn’t had time to corrupt him. He knew where his loyalty lay. He wanted his family and his wickedness and the beautiful woman that walked beside him. That was Darla, who had never allowed Drusilla to call her grandmother. She was dazzling, wasn’t she, with a heart as black as coal and hair like spun gold?
And Spike. Spike, with a younger — younger, freer, darker — Drusilla in his arms and the blood of his first Slayer on his lips. She’d forgotten. She’d forgotten how young he’d been. How beautiful. The pair looked blissful, light with love and dizzy with the knowledge of the eternity that stretched out in front of them.
It wouldn’t be an eternity, though. A century seemed like a long time until you’ve lived it and moved on to the next one. For a moment, she wondered what would happen if she stepped forward. She’d warn her younger self and that sweet little Spike. Tell them to stay away from Prague. From Sunnydale. From the filthy Slayer that would spoil everything. She’d never see the stars again, but she’d have him. She’d have him.
“There are some things that can’t be rewritten, Drusilla.”
That was the Doctor, who was the stars, calling her back to him. He was the last of his kind, just as she was the last survivor of the family she watched and watched until they disappeared out sight. That wasn’t the only thing that held them together — and wasn’t it a surprise to realise that? — but it was worth remembering.
Wordlessly, the vampire held out her hand. The Time Lord took it. They walked into the TARDIS together and they didn’t look back. Not really.
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