Unlike the majority of people skilled with healing magic, Sean Moran was human. Normally, humans had to struggle for hours to heal a cut, and most wounds were entirely beyond them. Conversely, demons generally had more skill with healing magic, especially those that belonged to species that had a naturally accelerated healing factor anyway.
However, Sean's magic was entirely based around healing, whereas most humans had more range in their talents, even if they did specialise. But Sean was the most talented healer on the planet. Give him physical contact, a little time and a little effort, and he could heal everything shy of death.
But Drusilla should have been dead. If she was anything other than a vampire - not even the hardiest of half-breed demons could've stood up to the peculiar energy of the Beacon, but as Drusilla hadn't been decapitated or staked, she still clung to life. Or unlife - then she would've been dead.
This was precisely the kind of job that Sean had prayed he would never have. He feared that not only would the scary burnt-faced man kill him if he failed to save Drusilla, but that Holland would kill him even if he succeeded, merely to keep him silent.
Not that Sean had a choice in the matter. Wolfram & Hart owned him, quite literally. They had done for years.
Because Sean, despite being a healer, wasn't a nice person. Sure, he could heal nearly everything, but it was just as easy for him to make people's bodies heal slightly wrongly. Wolfram & Hart had caught up to Sean after he had murdered six people by giving them a rapidly growing, fatal cancer. They'd offered him a job. And they'd told him what would happen if he refused. Sean had accepted.
Wolfram & Hart used Sean more as an assassin than a healer.
But there was nothing that Sean could do about that, so he got on with his task of healing Drusilla.
Drusilla was familiar with pain, both physical and psychic. Angelus had tortured her when she was human, and tortured her family before her eyes, and forced her to watch. He hadn't really stopped even after he had sired her. And the things that her Sight, her gift
had shown her had tortured her long before that.
But the pain that Drusilla had felt then was as nothing compared to what she felt now. She felt like she was being torn apart, burnt to death, every atom being systematically destroyed in the most painful way imaginable. And, even as her body was in excruciating agony, Drusilla's mind was being tortured just as much. She felt as though everything that made Drusilla herself was being ripped out of her.
The Beacon was truly a weapon of torture.
But Drusilla, who was psychic, clairvoyant and insane, only ever had a loose attachment between her kind and her body. It was surprisingly easy for her to set her mind free of the constraints of her body, free from the evil effects of the Beacon.
The first thing that Drusilla noticed was the cessation of pain, a lack of sensation so strong that it became one, so blissful that if Drusilla had had a mouth, she would've groaned in ecstasy.
The next thing that Drusilla noticed was the stars. It didn't occur to her that her body still lay on a table inside a building, and that she couldn't possibly actually be seeing stars. Drusilla often saw stars in the strangest of places.
Drusilla had always been fascinated by the stars, even when she had still been human. She wondered what her life would've been like if she hadn't been - certainly Darla would never have seen her out for a walk beneath the night sky.
But Drusilla had never seen stars like she was seeing them now. She could see more than she had ever seen, even on the clearest of nights, but each of them were as bright as she remembered the sun to be, a flaming ball of gas that lit up the sky. Drusilla felt that she should've been blinded, burnt to ashes by the light.
But she wasn't. Even as Drusilla saw the stars in this new way, she simultaneously saw them as tiny pinpricks in the incomparably dark sky, so dark that it seemed as though each star was in imminent danger of being swallowed up by it. Drusilla felt that she should've been blinded, swallowed up by the darkness.
Although Drusilla didn't know it, she was unusual for a vampire. Perhaps it was her insanity, or her Sight, or some other factor.
Because, whilst Drusilla would just as happily kill and eat a child as the next vampire, she would also quite cheerfully stop another vampire from killing a child and walk it home.
There was a being that could use a mind like that. Of course, unlike other, similar beings, it wouldn't take Drusilla by force. Besides, that would ruin her.
Drusilla felt a purpose wash over her. It was strange, because she had never really had a purpose before. She'd always moved aimlessly through her unlife, moving from town to town wherever Spike or Angelus had wanted to go.
She found she rather enjoyed it. Drusilla accepted the purpose, took it as her own.Balance is all.
In the midst of what had been a completely ordinary healing - it had even gone better than expected - Sean became aware of a change.
Normally, Sean provided energy and gently coaxed the person's body to use it to heal the way he wanted it to. This time, however, his magic was being brutally ripped out of him, being forced into the body of the vampire before him.
And the worst part was that Sean couldn't even bring himself to muster the willpower to stop it from happening.
Suddenly, as abruptly as it began, it ended. At the exact same moment that Drusilla opened her eyes.
Or eye. The one that had been damaged by the Beacon hadn't reformed, nor had the fingers she had lost or the flesh of half Drusilla's face.
In their place was an odd, translucent grey image of flesh. Sean could see right through it to the skull beneath, right through Drusilla's fingers to table on which she sat.
Drusilla looked at her hand thoughtfully, then tapped it on the table. Her new, grey fingers passed through it as though it wasn't even there - or as though they weren't even there. Then she focused, and her fingers solidified, changing colour to a paler, more fleshy tone, in keeping with the rest of her skin. Sean could no longer see through them, nor through the now-perfect skin on her face. Drusilla smiled in satisfaction.
Then Drusilla looked at Sean, and he wished that he had taken that brief opportunity to run as far from her as he possibly could. What Sean saw in Drusilla's eyes scared him more than anything he had ever seen - and he had worked at Wolfram & Hart for years.
Then Sean promptly forgot all that. He forgot everything but her eyes.
Drusilla smiled again. Sean would wake up in a few minutes, and would forget that she was ever here. She had also made sure that he would now feel qualms for work that had previously given him none. Perhaps enough to make him stop working for Wolfram & Hart. Perhaps not, also.Balance is all
Drusilla walked to the door, tried the handle. Locked. She looked down at her newly-reformed hand and focused briefly. The fingers that she had lost from the Beacon once again became that curious, opalescent grey, before reforming into a new shape. That of a key.
Then Drusilla thought better of it, and her fingers became fingers again. She had another way out.
Drusilla felt great satisfaction in kicking the door in, but that was nothing compared to seeing Cole - even a hunched, despondent, burnt Cole, sitting on the edge of his chair in the corridor outside.
Cole jumped when the door smashed to splinters, but when he saw Drusilla standing in the doorway he was in front of her so fast that Drusilla wasn't sure whether he had shimmered there or not.
Cole's face was expressionless, emotionless, as he said "You're alive." It didn't matter, his tone of voice said everything that his face didn't.
Drusilla considered the question thoughtfully. It was the wrong statement, she thought. She answered it anyway. "Yes. Yes, I am. More than you know."
Then Cole swept her up in his arms, burying his face in her hair. If she had been human, Drusilla might have cracked some ribs from the tightness of his embrace. "Don't do that again." he said fiercely.
"I won't." said Drusilla. It was true. She wouldn't.
Cole took a brief step back, then seemed to change his mind. He brought his head down and kissed her, lightly, then more strongly. Drusilla kissed him back.
They had time now.
They broke off. "What do we do now?" murmured Cole, thinking of the promise that he had made to Holland, that Wolfram & Hart could have Drusilla if only they would heal her.
"There's somewhere we have to be." said Drusilla. There was. She'd had a vision - several visions - and she knew exactly where they had to be.
Cole didn't answer, he just shimmered away, letting Drusilla guide them to their destination.
Pylean soldiers very rarely bothered to go into the woods near the mountains. There wasn't any game that was worth a hunt in there, and the farms that ran on the labour of cows produced more food than would ever be found growing wild in there.
That was why Fred had found it to be an ideal hiding place.
However, unbeknownst to Fred, the Covenant of Trombli forced soldiers to patrol in there every few years, especially those who had displeased them in some fashion.
One of them had stumbled across Fred, and it had only been because she had been quicker to recover from the shock that she had managed to pick up a rock and smash the soldier over the head with it. Fred had been rather surprised as to how easy it was. And of course, now she had a crossbow, all the better to hunt game with.
Of course, when the soldier didn't return, the rest of his squadron were obliged to go in and find out what had happened. They suspected a rebel group of cows had been behind it.
Fred never saw any of these soldiers, and the soldiers never saw what happened to them. Some of them were incinerated, and some of them had their throats cut.
So, when the Covenant ordered another squadron to find out what had happened to the first, they found the bodies of roughly half the squadron hung upside-down, their throats slit. After that, no soldiers went into the woods by the mountains, for fear of angering the mighty, evil spirit that lived there.
Fred knew none of that. She didn't know how it was that she managed to escape detection by Pylean soldiers until Angel and his gang came to rescue her years later.
Drusilla and Cole did know, but they couldn't rest on their laurels. They had things to do.Balance is all.
Author’s note: okay, we've come to the end of this particular story now, I hope you've enjoyed it. I'm well aware that some people might not have a clue as to what is going on in this chapter, but that's alright, it will all be made clear sooner or later.